Renewables and Your Home

For those interested in reducing their carbon footprint and making their homes greener, renewables can be one option. After acting on cost effective energy efficiency and conservation opportunities, there are a few ways to introduce a renewable element to your utilities mix.

shutterstock_251887114 small

  1. Purchase renewable energy from your utility provider

The City of Fort Collins allows businesses and residents to purchase clean, renewable energy for an additional 2.54 cents per kilowatt-hour. It’s so that customers who are willing to pay a little more for their electricity can be confident in the knowledge it comes from the cleanest sources available. The green energy from Fort Collins Utilities comes from wind farms located in Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Kansas. For every unit of renewable energy electricity generated, the equivalent of renewable energy certificates is produced, which helps build a market for renewable electricity while helping reducing global climate change.

 

  1. Generate On-site Electricity

Generating your own electricity on your property, or ‘parallel generation’ can be a cost effective way to reduce utility bills. Using on-site renewable sources to generate electricity, like solar panels can mean a lower carbon footprint for your home and lifestyle overall. The time and monetary investment can be significant – for example, installing a solar photo voltaic ( “PV” ) system, your home must meet parallel generation requirements and you’ll need a building permit. It can be involved, but according to one source, the return on a solar system in Colorado can be $24,575 over 20 years. In Fort Collins, the savings can be much more immediate courtesy of Fort Collins Utilities’ solar rebates program.

Some people are also curious about off-grid residential wind power. Installing a practical wind turbine on your property within city limits is not permitted in Fort Collins due to municipal regulations, but there are options for more rural home owners (the US Department of Energy recommends you live on an acre or more) where turbines don’t conflict with HOA charters and county regulations.

 

  1. Buy into Community Solar

For those interested in the benefit of solar ownership without the maintenance of a stand-alone system, the Fort Collins Community Solar project has partnered with Clean Energy Collective (CEC). Panels are available for purchase on the solar farm in Fort Collins near Riverside Ave, allowing customers to lower their utility bills and take advantage of the same solar rebates available to homeowners that do full installs. You can find out more at www.FortCollinsCommunitySolar.com.  While shares in this project are currently on a waitlist basis, other shared solar projects are planned in the next several years.

 

The path to renewable energy sources can seem daunting, but we’re fortunate to live in a city that places an emphasis on generating clean, renewable energy. There are organizations like FortZED dedicated to helping residents, local companies, and City personnel to catalyzing novel technologies and pilot projects that continue to explore how we can generate and consume energy in a manner that is clean and sustainable.

To learn more about solar programs and support from City of Fort Collins Utilities, download the Solar Handout here.

Kid-Friendly Ways to Conserve Energy

Energy conservation – McGraw Kindergarten Student Kim Krenning

When it comes to energy conservation, we’re all in it together. From adjusting your thermostat to switching to LED lightbulbs, all of the small things you do add up to bigger energy savings.

It’s not just up to adults to save energy. Teaching kids from a young age to be conscious of their energy use and taking steps to reduce it help move us towards a better and more sustainable future.

What are some easy things the kids in your life can do to save energy? Start with these five actions to empower the next generation of energy savers:

  1. Turn off the lights. To adults it’s a habit, but to kids, turning off the lights is just something their parents ask them to do. Sit down with your kids, explain to them why it’s important to turn off the lights, and remind them to switch off lights to help them develop energy saving habits.
  2. Close the doors. Open doors are the perfect “escape routes” for energy. Remind kids to close doors completely when they leave or come into the house. If they’re interested in learning more, go through the house with them and see if you can find and fix any spaces around doors or windows that are letting outside air in.
  3. Turn off electronics and remind adults to unplug. Kids often move between activities at lightning speed. Teach them that turning off electronic devices when they’re finished is an important final step and ask them to remind you to unplug things like the TV when they aren’t being used. Yes, it can be a hassle to wait a few extra seconds for the computer to start up, or to have to plug in a device before you can use it. However, the extra energy that is saved by turning off or unplugging things adds up.
  4. Help plant a tree to shade the house during the summer. It may take a few years to grow big enough to shield the house from the hot summer sun, but once it’s big enough, your tree can help keep your home cool during the summer months. And, it’s an activity that you and the kids can reminisce about for years to come!
  5. Train them to remind others about energy-saving habits. Encourage kids to remind you when you forget to turn off a light or close the refrigerator door. Consider making it a “job” to make sure that all lights are turned off and everything is unplugged before you leave the house.

Teaching kids to conserve energy

Did you know that Fort Collins Utilities has a variety of hands-on, curriculum-based school classes that can teach kids to save energy? Check it out:

  • Agent Energywise – This hands-on lab for 4th grade students encourages investigation into the different “disguises,” or forms, of energy we interact with every day, and the ways that we can save energy with simple actions.
  • 6th and 8th Grade Energy Labs – Students investigate energy transformations and the different ways we interact with energy in our lives using laser thermometers, watt meters, and more!
  • 6th and 8th Grade Wind Labs – Students explore the different sources of energy we rely on in Fort Collins and put their engineering skills to the test as they design the most efficient wind turbine with our mini wind-turbine kits.
  • Voltbusters – This month-long program for K-5 students engages students in a friendly competition to see who can complete the most energy-saving actions in their classroom.
  • Assemblies – Students of all ages enjoy these short presentations on how we can conserve energy in our daily lives, and why it is important for each of us to do our part.
  • Coming Soon – Early Childhood Education! Join the Utilities Education Team in scientific explorations, art projects, and more that teach about energy in our world.

Energy conservation today makes a difference for society in the future. For more tips to save energy in your home, visit Lose-A-Watt online. Learn more information about energy saving programs for kids by contacting Alyssa Stephens at (970) 416-2248 or [email protected].