Shrink Your Carbon Footprint in 2021 with these New Year's Resolutions
Alex "Solar Girl" Steele
Happy New Year! We’ve successfully completed one more rotation around the sun. Last year was a roller coaster ride for almost everyone on Earth, so shaking off the weight of 2020 feels refreshing... However, plenty of the problems that were looming over us last year will continue to follow us into the future. According to NASA and NOAA, last year was the hottest on record, and 2021 will likely be even more of a scorcher. In addition to rising global average temperatures, we’re looking at higher sea levels, more catastrophic weather events, and a skyrocketing CO2 concentration that has scientists issuing dire warnings.
This news is sobering, and it can be difficult to comprehend the scale of the work needed to mitigate these global threats. It will take the entire planet coming together to confront climate change to keep our planet healthy and safe for the next generation. No one individual can do everything, but there are some easy changes you can make that have tangible impacts! Reducing your fossil fuel emissions can put money back in your pocket while cleaning up our planet’s air and water, and improving public health in the process. Are you ready to do your part to reduce your carbon footprint, and grow your savings in the process? If so, read on!
If you keep up with news related to clean power and the energy economy, chances are you’ve already heard of the term “carbon footprint” before. If it’s a new phrase to you, it’s basically a representation of the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions you put out into the atmosphere through day-to-day activities. Actions like driving, taking flights, and consuming electricity at home all contribute to your carbon footprint. Just about everything you do comes with a carbon tag - consider how much fuel was used to transport your produce from the farm to the grocery store, or how many trees had to be cut down for your package of toilet paper, for example.
When you think about it, almost every aspect of our daily activities emit carbon in some way, and most of that is non-negotiable. After all, it’s unrealistic to expect the average consumer to only buy local produce for the rest of their lives, or never buy paper necessities again… And no one should be expected to go without like that. Like the BBC so eloquently said, “We can’t all be Greta”. So, if you’re eco-conscious and you want to offset your household’s carbon footprint, how do you go about that in a practical and affordable way? Typically, people start their journey towards emissions reduction by getting a solid idea of how much energy they are using.
Start by getting a picture of your energy consumption with a home energy audit. Energy assessors typically partner with your local utility company, and will come to your home and take a look at your electrical appliances, lighting, HVAC equipment, energy consumption, insulation, and more. These assessments are typically free of charge, and can provide you with energy efficient light bulbs, low-flow showerheads, and programmable thermostats! They can also refer you for insulation improvements, air sealing, and HVAC rebates. After your energy audit, you’ll be well on your way to shrinking your carbon footprint and your expenses… but there is more you can do!
Whether or not you’ve taken advantage of an energy audit, you have more options for eliminating energy expenses and reducing your carbon emissions than you might be aware of. If you’re ready to take complete control of your home energy consumption, another possibility is consulting a solar expert. By starting a conversation with an fully licensed turnkey solar installation company, you can cut out third party middlemen and learn straight from the source, exactly how solar can benefit you. A good solar installer will provide you with a design that factors in your roof azimuth, any shading present on your property, and specific building regulations for your region. After determining the best design for your home, you’ll be presented with a proposal that breaks down how much electricity your solar array will produce, how it will lower your energy bills over time, and your return on investment. You might also find that adding battery storage to your home is a smart way to nearly eliminate your household consumption of fossil fuels, because solar + storage enables you to utilize more of the energy your system is producing, even when the sun isn’t shining.
If solar isn’t right for your home, you could look into changing your electricity supplier instead. With the exception of Vermont, every state in New England has a deregulated electricity market, so you have plenty of options for utility supply. This means that a number of electricity generation companies are competing against each other in a free market setting, vying for customers by offering the lowest rates. You might be surprised to learn that you can find a better electricity rate by shopping around for a new supplier. Suppliers typically offer a variety of options, ranging from traditional fossil fuels to solar, wind, or hydroelectric power. Consumers can lock into a fixed rate, avoiding the unpredictability of rate hikes during high-demand periods. Switching your electricity supplier can give you the power to reduce your carbon footprint by determining exactly what kind of energy you’re paying for, and getting started is super simple. You can start shopping around for a new supplier on the American Coalition of Competitive Energy Suppliers website, ACCES.
This new year is ripe with opportunities to make powerful changes for your life and the world around you. We may have our work cut out for us as a global community, but there are actions everyone can take to do our part towards building a brighter future. If you’re ready to learn how you can make sustainable changes at home, Solar Wolf Energy is happy to serve as a resource. Let’s start mapping out your journey towards energy independence and financial freedom today!