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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.



Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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