Step one to lowering your carbon footprint at home: Pick a sustainable energy supplier
PA residents can choose how their homes are powered. Here’s why that matters.
On the 51st Earth Day, President Joe Biden unveiled a goal to cut emissions by 50% of 2005 levels by 2030. Even with this big announcement, playing our part to combat climate change can feel overwhelming.
Did you know that most carbon emissions in the city come from where we live, work, and spend our time?
The majority of Philadelphia’s energy use comes from our built environment. In fact, 79% of Philadelphia carbon footprint comes from buildings and industry.
Most of the energy to power our homes and buildings come from fossil fuels. Philadelphia has a plan to choose clean energy, and you can too. Although a personal choice like how we power our homes may feel small, collectively it can add up.
“When we come together as a community, we’re able to accomplish far more than what we realized was ever possible,“ said The Energy Co-op’s Meryl Sands.
That Philadelphia community includes residents and the city government.
The Energy Office, in the Philadelphia Office of Sustainability, determines the sources of energy for municipal buildings.
The City is determined to lead by example. The Municipal Energy Master Plan is the Energy Office’s roadmap of how to mitigate climate change. It also sets goals to lower Philly’s carbon footprint, like to generate 100% of electricity from renewable resources in municipal buildings by 2030.
The City of Philadelphia can mandate how its buildings get energy. But how we power our homes is really up to us, the city residents.
By default, your home energy comes from a standard mix of source, with a majority from coal and natural gas.
Just like choosing whether we buy local or imported produce, we can do the same with our energy. Pennsylvania is a state with a deregulated energy market, which means customers can choose where their energy comes from.
Although Pennsylvania has this option, we’re still behind in our renewables. The state is 22nd in the nation in solar energy production, compared to New Jersey being 6th in the nation.
But, you don’t have to put solar panels on your roof to get renewable energy. All of our electricity is delivered over the “grid” distribution system (one set of cable and wires). Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) make it possible to track the use of solar, wind, and other renewable sources – so that anyone can get renewable electricity for their home or business. The RECs function as the energy “birth certificate” so we know where each kilowatt came from.
That’s why choosing an energy supplier can be a small action with a big impact.
“When you choose an energy supplier, you get the opportunity for your dollars to align with your values,” said The Energy Co-op’s Meryl Sands. “And when your dollars go towards renewable energy, they’re doing something good for the planet.”
How to Choose a Renewable Energy Supplier
The good news: Residents can shop for their home’s energy suppliers and rates on PA Power Switch.
You can check your utility bill to see who’s currently supplying your energy. (Most likely, it will say PECO if you haven’t opted in to renewable energy yet.)
The not-so-good news: Not all suppliers, even offering renewable energy, are created equal.
The Energy Co-op recently hosted a webinar with Green Philly to share the facts around renewable energy suppliers.
Lower price tags of renewable energy often are offered by large, vertically integrated companies that have over 90% of their portfolio produced by coal, natural gas or another non-renewable fuel. The dollars you spend with those companies could be reinvested in those same fossil fuels.
Suppliers also may use misleading practices or confusing offers, like introductory rates that skyrocket or signing up customers without their consent.
How the Energy Co-op is Different
The Energy Co-op was founded in 1979 by Weavers Way Co-op to help Philadelphians affordably heat their homes. As a locally-based energy supplier, The Energy Co-op creates local green jobs, invests in local green energy, and supports the local economy.
Unlike suppliers with a mixed portfolio with fossil fuels, The Energy Co-op only offers 100% renewable electricity, including the option for 100% PA generated wind and solar. On top of being locally produced and creating PA jobs, it also reduces local pollutants and drives demand of renewables in our state.
As a nonprofit with a commitment to sustainable energy and that’s member-owned, members of The Energy Co-op can provide input in the organization. “The Energy Co-op is a group of people who are coming together to achieve greater sustainability in their Philadelphia communities and the surrounding areas,” said Sands.
Members can attend quarterly webinars to meet other cooperative members and participate in the member ambassadors’ program.
Want to learn more? Watch the full webinar:
The webinar and content were sponsored by The Energy Co-op.