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5 Ingenious Ways Electric Companies Are Fighting for Environmental Sustainability



91957046 By mattwalker69 Via Flickr

If you are an environmentally conscious person, you want to change the world for the better. One way to do this is to set an example by using less energy and greening the electricity that you do use. As more people follow your lead and do what you do, it will lighten our combined footprint.

Although your family, friends, and neighbors may roll their eyes when you talk about how we can all act collectively to conserve our environment, considering you a hopeless idealist, you are not alone in your quest to create a better world. The government is doing its best to make people more aware of how the energy grid is not an inexhaustible source of energy. In addition, your energy firm, too, is spreading the message to its subscribers, trying to persuade them to limit their unnecessary energy use and buy more energy-efficient appliances.

In fact, energy firms all across North America are doing what they can to persuade consumers to be less wasteful. So how are they managing to make people more aware of the green revolution? Let’s take a look at a few ways:

1. Energy companies offer a green energy premium. In Alberta, Canada, ATCO electric services allow consumers to select 25% to 100% of their electricity plan from renewable sources for only a small premium. They call it the “Green Premium,” and it’s charged on subscribers’ consumption in kWh.
2. Energy companies make neighborhood comparisons. The idea of keeping up with the Jones’s, and even trouncing them, has long been a friendly psychological game played in neighborhoods. The energy companies are using this mindset as a strategy to make people aware of how wasteful their energy consumption is compared to their neighbors. By sending out literature in their billings about how a neighboring home that is about the same size with the same number of inhabitants is a model of energy consumption, people respond by lowering their own energy consumption. Besides a flyer enclosed with the bill, the use of smart meters is allowing people to figure out how much energy they are consuming in their home, and this gives them a chance to compare themselves to their neighbors. Comparison, then, appears to spark an interest in adopting a more conservative use of energy.
3. Energy companies include green energy consumption as part of the conversation about home improvements. Although people have long since learned that it’s more energy-efficient to use certain appliances, like LED light bulbs, consumers were not paying much attention until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency created the Energy Star program. This program has been one of the most successful energy conservation efforts ever implemented. The voluntary movement has made significant contributions to saving energy and climate protection. This successful initiative has given energy companies a handle to discuss “home improvement programs” with home owners to encourage them to see saving energy and money as a form of home improvement. Now home owners don’t simply think of home improvement merely thinking as a way of upgrading their décor. In addition, by talking about the benefits of keeping homes warmer in winter, the abstract idea of long-term savings becomes more palatable.
4. Energy companies make energy waste easier to understand. Often consumers waste electricity out of sheer ignorance. They are not aware of the environmental problems associated with wasteful use, nor do they recognize their own role in it. By using colorful charts, electric companies are making consumers more aware of how much energy they can save. Charts provide immediate comprehension. They are superior to written description because numbers are often too technical for most people to grasp. By realizing how much money they are throwing away, consumers are now more likely to act based on energy conservation recommendations.
5. Energy companies inform consumers about peak energy consumption times, and how to avoid them as much as possible. Energy firms are now encouraging customers to use energy during off-peak times. This is an effective strategy to encourage use of energy during early mornings or late nights because energy pricing is based on demand based on purchasing wholesale energy in an open market. This means consumers have to pay more if they decide to use most of their energy during peak times.

Greening Electricity: Part of the Big Picture

Although the government and electric companies are working hard to help people be less wasteful of natural resources, it’s an uphill battle. This is because the concept of sustainability itself is not an easy one to grasp. One popular definition comes from the UN Bruntland commission report: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts: the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.”

Ultimately, then, greening electricity is part of a larger effort to create a sustainable world. Some efforts like buying solar energy from residential homes that have access are ingenious. By doing your part by conserving electricity, you’re contributing to a better future for humanity.



7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption



Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions |

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis




Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens |

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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