If you did not want to go the route of installing solar panels and generating your own renewable energy there is another option. Why not switch to a green electricity tariff so you are using electricity generated from renewable sources such as solar and wind power.
In the UK there are several companies that provide green tariffs including most of the major providers and many smaller specialist power companies. Choosing a green energy provider is simple if you are just going to compare price. However considering that you are probably the type of person who is switching for ethical reasons you will want to choose a company that shares your values.
The government wants renewable sources of energy to make up just under a third of all electricity generated by 2020. The renewables obligation policy requires energy suppliers to supply a certain amount of their electricity from renewable sources. For ethical and environmental reasons it is better to choose a supplier who is supply renewable energy above and beyond their obligations. Otherwsie the company may just be allocating from the amount of green energy there are obliged to provide anyway.
Not all green energy tariffs are the same and to be honest the tariffs many companies are offering and the governments own green energy certification schemes are confusing. The best way to ensure you are really making a difference by switching is to visit the various companies websites and see for yourself.
My own personal opinions and research suggest choosing one of the smaller providers. They are companies who were set up with the ethical and founding principals in order to make a difference. This is opposed to the big energy companies who are just meeting their legal obligations and often greenwash their offerings. Some of the big name providers offer tariffs they say are green but are not actually providing any would we would consider renewable energy.
Although not really a small energy provider anymore Ecotricity has invested over 12 times more than the next closest company in new renewable capacity over a 6 year period. They plan to be producing half of all their electricity from renewable sources by 2011.
One of the current leaders in renewable energy investment. They have quite good green credentials and offer two electricity tariffs and now also a gas tariff. There New energy tariff will be price matched to your regional supplier. This tariff is topped up with brown electricity but this component is falling as they are currently the biggest investor in renewable energy in the UK.
The New Energy Plus tariff is slightly more expensive, they claim £20 more per year but it does guarantee 100 percent green electricity. Additionally they also supply a green gas tariff supplying biogas to the gasgrid but it can only be taken with one of their electricity tariffs.
Unique among energy companies they are currently the only 100 percent renewable energy supplier. There electricity is derived from the Sun, Wind and Water however a large portion of this is supplied from independent generators around the UK. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it supports grass roots and small energy generators.
They only have one tariff but this depends on which region you are in. They do not have a national pricing structure so local cost variation can be as much as 2 pence per unit.
Green Energy UK source there energy from renewable sources and combined heat and power generators. CHP is a technology that burns gas to produce usable heat and electricity and is more efficient than just burning gas for heating.
They have two tariffs named deep green and pale green. The first provides 100 percent renewable power whilst their other pale green tariff provides electricity sourced mostly from CHP. CHP is not technically a renewable source as the gas to fire the power stations comes from fossil fuels. There are however biogas alternative which will no doubt make this totally renewable as they come online.
As with the previous suppliers tariffs vary depending on what region of the country you live in.
LoCO2 Energy is actually a group of power generating companies who have come together to sell their electricity under one name. About half of the energy they supply is renewable of which a majority is made up of hydro power.
They have 3 tariffs, an economy, standard and premium tariff. The pocket or economy tariff sources of energy are a mixture of renewable energy and natural gas. Pocket+ their standard tariff is all renewable and comes from a mixture of sources including wind, solar and hydro. Finally their squeaky clean planet premium tariff is also all renewables but strictly hydro, wind and solar. The premium tariff works out to about 15 percent higher than the economy tariff.
Renewables make up about 15 percent of Ovo Energy's portfolio as they rely heavily on fossil fuels and nuclear. They have 2 tariffs, a new energy plan and a green energy plan. The new energy plan is their standard tariff and not really a green tariff. Their green energy tariff sources 100 percent renewable energy.
Interestingly they use geothermal power as well as gas from biomass as part of their renewable supply. As well as the traditional solar, wind and hydro a tidal component is also used.
The UK's largest energy supplier has two green tariff options. The future energy tariff uses renewable energy and also donates a small amount to a green fund. The future energy plus tariff is a dual fuel tariff. It does the same as the previous tariff except offsets the carbon from your gas usage.
For being the largest in the UK you would expect a little bit more. Less than 7 percent of their total supply is from renewable sources. The overwhelming majority unsurprisingly comes from natural gas. Unless you are already being supplied by British Gas I see no compelling argument for switching to them for their green options.
Looking at EDF Energy you are pretty much looking at British Gas except they rely on nuclear rather than natural gas. They have a green tariff but you do not get renewable energy, rather a premium is put towards a fund for renewable energy projects. Yet another disappointment from one of the larger companies.
Eon Energy have a going green tariff that matches electricity used with energy from renewable sources. The company produce less than 2 percent of its energy from renewable sources and relies heavily on coal and gas. Again disappointing credentials.
Energy supplier npower has 2 green electricity tariffs. Their npower juice tariff matches to 100 percent renewable sources and donates to a green fund for community renewable projects. They also have a National Trust energy tariff is also matched with 100 percent renewable sources and a fund benefits National Trust estates.
Amongst the larger providers npower rates slightly better as they match their green energy rates to their standard tariff. They also benefit the Trust if this is something you want to support. Again they produce about 6 percent of their energy from renewables.
Southern Electric have the strangely named oplan as their green option. This supplies 100 percent renewable energy which comes from hydro. They also offer to offset some of your carbon. Yet again an uninspiring offer from one of the major players. The only redeeming feature is they do produce about 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources.
The simply green tariff from Scottish power matches 100 percent renewable energy from wind power. They will also donate to a green energy trust. Again a pretty standard offering from a company who generates about the average of 7 percent from renewables from its total portfolio.
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