In the past few decades, average global temperatures have climbed sharply. Studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activity. Ninety-seven percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree with this statement.
Greenhouse gasses trap heat in our atmosphere and make the planet warmer. Warming our atmosphere can have many negative consequences such as sea-level rise, more extreme weather events, droughts, and heatwaves. For these reasons, it is crucial to start thinking about how we can shift away from fossil fuels.
In the United States, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation. “Greening the Grid” refers to converting the electrical grid to renewable energy sources. The Massachusetts’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard is a piece of legislation that was adopted by Massachusetts in 2003. It requires that retail electricity suppliers provide a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable energy sources. This legislation will require that over half of our energy comes from renewable sources by 2050.
Many different renewable energy resources are waiting to be harnessed! Some of the resources available are wind power, hydropower, solar energy, geothermal energy, and bioenergy. The technology to harvest these energies has already been developed and is in action. Consumers can vote with their dollars by making a fossil fuel to renewable energy switch! By buying into renewable energy, consumers create more demand for a greener grid.
Energy efficiency is also critically important, and is often referred to as our “first fuel” in addressing climate change. There are many different ways you can cut down your energy consumption including: air sealing, weatherization, energy-efficient lighting, and energy-efficient appliances. For transportation, try carpooling or taking public transit, or even better – getting a more fuel-efficient vehicle. If you’re stuck trying to figure out how to reduce your transportation and electricity usage, check out our many programs at CET.
Conducting an Energy Assessment on your home is a significant first step to reduce energy consumption! Many utility companies will offer professional home energy audits. Assessments are a great way to figure out where the air is leaking from your home. You can then air seal and insulate to reduce the energy used to heat and cool your home.
Depending on where you are located, you may be eligible for a Mass Save Home Energy Assessment. CET conducts Mass Save assessments for Berkshire Gas customers in Franklin, Hampshire, and Berkshire counties. Mass Save offers no-cost home energy assessments to make natural gas heating more energy-efficient. This program provides innovative solutions by incentivizing weatherization measures and offering rebates. There are also programs for those who live in communities with Municipal Light Plants (MLPs). CET provides HELPS energy assessments to many MLP communities in Massachusetts, as well as assessments for Westfield Gas and Electric customers.
Sourcing Renewable Energy
Electricity accounts for about 28% of the greenhouse gas emissions produced by humans. Therefore, sourcing renewable energy into your home, business, or institution can be a great option to reduce your carbon footprint.
Installing solar panels for your home, business, or institution is a great way to contribute to greening the grid. CET offers many different programs if you are interested in solar for your home. Mass Save can provide eligible customers with a 0% interest HEAT loan that can be used on energy-efficient upgrades, such as solar panels and solar heat pumps. CET also offers the Solar Access program, a pilot program that provides financial assistance to install solar panels and heat pumps in low to middle-income homeowners in Massachusetts. To find out if you are eligible for the program, fill out our survey here.
Another great renewable energy source is wind. If you want to green the grid with wind power, the Green Powered Program is an excellent option if you can afford a few extra cents/kWh on your energy bill. This program is offered by the Green Energy Consumers Alliance (GECA), and it offsets the fossil fuels you use with renewable energy. GECA is a non-profit, so the extra cost is tax-deductible! They offer two different renewable energy mixes. One of them is 100% wind power, and one is 25% renewable energy from a combination of wind, solar, hydro, and anaerobic digestion! Either plan is an excellent investment into greening the grid.
With transportation accounting for about 29% of greenhouse gas emissions, converting to an electric or hybrid vehicle is another great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Electric cars also have great federal and state rebates. If you are looking for a new car, consider checking out the Drive Green program offered throughECA. Drive Green connects new car buyers with dealerships offering discounts on electric and hybrid vehicles. Drive Green bundles together eligible state and federal rebates to give you the lowest price possible! The Drive Green program, paired with the Green Powered plan is a great combination because you can charge your car using enewable energy!
These are just a few of the things you can do to get involved in greening the grid. If you have questions about any of the programs we offer, please visit us at www.centerforecotechnology.org or give us a call at 413-586-7350!