As a college student, you’ve probably well versed in initiatives on campus or in your community that positively impact the environment. Campus recycling programs, renewable energy projects, and other green promotions are abundant across the nation’s campuses. But what you probably don’t know is that you may be able to do even more for the green movement by purchasing your own renewable electricity.
You’re probably thinking “That sounds expensive; I’m a college student!” But in fact, by shopping around for green electricity, you can often save money on your electric bill.
Choosing a Renewable Electricity Provider
To shop around for better rates, you’ll want to compare “electricity providers” and their rates and plans. Electricity providers are companies that buy electricity at wholesale prices and then sell the electricity to their customers, often for lower rates than the rates of the default utility in the area. Renewable electricity providers have become abundant over the past decade, offing partial and 100% Green plans that source energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar.
When shopping around for a renewable electricity provider, you’ll first want to know the rate that you’re currently paying. This rate is found on the “electric supply” section of your bill, and is expressed in cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). Look for a rate that is lower or comparable to this rate. Keep in mind that renewable electricity plans often cost slightly more than traditional energy (e.g., coal) plans. On the other hand, many electricity providers still offer rates below what you’re currently paying. Consider the cost and consider your environmental impact to make the best decision for you.
Who is Eligible to Shop Around?
Residents and businesses in deregulated states are eligible to shop around for a retail electricity provider. Many states across the nation are deregulated. To find out if your state is deregulated, visit the Energy Information Administration’s deregulation map and click on your state.
If you rent your home and are paying your electric bill directly (if it’s not included in your rent), you may be able to participate, depending on the duration of your lease and retail electricity contract. You may want to talk to your landlord before making the switch, just in case. If you’re renting and not able to participate, talk to your family members about renewable electricity providers and the savings and benefits that they can bring.