Green home

Carbon Credits separate the Green Component from the Renewable Energy Source.  Solar and Wind Power have an energy component measured in kWh, and a renewable component, measured in Pounds of Carbon.  The concept of the Renewable Energy Credit (REC) is based on this fact, with one REC equaling one ton of Carbon.  Thus, the energy can be sold to one party, and the REC sold to another.  Increasing demand for RECs increases the demand for renewable sources of energy.  Many businesses, and an increasing number of individuals purchase carbon offsets in this growing market.  There is real value in offsetting your carbon footprint, just like managing your other household waste.

With the recent news that a sea level rise of 5 feet is inevitable, there is also a renewed push for Governments to do more.  Why wait for Government action when carbon credits allow you to take individual action today?  It certainly saves money in the log run.  The cost is also much cheaper than you might think given the nature of the “global warming debate.”

Some utilities are further along than others in deploying clean energy and smart grid.  PG&E is a leader in this area, with CO2 emissions of about 1/2 pound per kWh.  By comparison a Utility heavy in coal-fired plants might have emissions of over 2 pounds per kWh.  You can see how your utility stacks up here

Homes typically use 10,000 to 20,000 kWh per year, and in California homes will use less energy due to climate and high electric rates that encourage conservation.  A 2,000 sq. ft. home in the San Francisco Bay Area might have a carbon footprint of 5,000 pounds per year, whereas that same size home elsewhere would probably use more energy depending on climate, but assuming the 20,000 kWh figure, the carbon footprint could be up to 40,000 pounds.  That’s a huge difference!

How much more does that 35,000 pounds of carbon cost?  At terra pass,,  they charge $5.95 per thousand pounds.  That amounts to up to $210 more than the California home, but the California homeowner still has to pay $30 to offset their small carbon footprint.  Either way, offsetting your home’s carbon footprint is just not that expensive.  What’s it worth being able to tell your children and grandchildren that you’ve offset your carbon footprint since 2014?

Moreover, the cost of the actual electricity is MUCH greater than the cost of carbon.  Overall, the combined cost per household is about the same at about $2,000-$2,500 per year.  Given that renewables have reached cost parity with fossil fuels, we can expect that all utilities will install more clean energy, and that’s a very good thing given that the cost of doing nothing is much greater, but you don’t have to wait for them to do the work for you.

Buying carbon credits is not expensive, but there are a number of new technologies that save energy, reducing your carbon footprint, and saving more than $200 per year.  These include load shifting on a time of use rate tariff, new lighting, new appliances, solar, wifi-enabled thermostats, and other technologies.  This effectively makes offsetting the carbon footprint from your electrical consumption free!  In many cases, taking a whole house approach allows you to offset your vehicle use with the savings as well.

In coming blogs I’ll explain each of these technologies in detail.