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Green options for your home

Private residences consume lots of energy. The Energy Information Administration says that Americans are increasing their electricity consumption at home, with some homes even using more energy than small businesses. The EIAsays that on average a home uses between 936 and 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each month. There is also a heavy reliance on natural gas, one of the primary fuels used to heat homes. On average homes use 100 million BTU for heating and cooking needs per year. Thousands of dollars are spent every year on home heating, cooling and electricity needs, but there are many different ways to conserve energy. This includes using alternative energy sources that may be better for the planet and more cost-effective for the average homeowner. When considering green energy, many homeowners think of solar panels, which currently account for .01 percent of all electricity used in homes across the United States. However, solar power could provide as much as 10 percent of that electricity by 2025. California leads the nation with the most solar projects to date, but homeowners across the country are considering solar panel additions to their homes. While the initial cost of solar panel installation can be considerable, the panels generally pay for themselves in energy savings within a few years of installation. Also, some solar power companies now allow homeowners to rent the photovoltaic panels, which can cut down on the cost of installation. Choosing green energy may not involve any effort on the part of the homeowner. In fact, there are many different companies that work in conjunction with traditional energy suppliers so that a portion of the energy supplied to homes comes via an alternative energy source. Companies like Viridian Energy ( enable homeowners to switch a certain percentage of their energy usage to renewable energy. The company says that their collective impact has reduced total carbon emissions by 478,000,000 pounds, saving roughly 5 million trees and 24 million gallons of gasoline as a result. Homeowners who choose this option will still receive the same bill and must still open an account with their local utility companies. Delivery of the energy to that local utility changes, but consumers won't have anything to do with that process. Homeowners interested in making any other changes for energy savings can sign up to have an energy audit. Conducted through a utility provider or a third-party organization, energy audits assess many things in the home. Appliances are examined, as are insulation and the types of windows and doors used in the home and an inspector will check the home for drafts. A report is generated, and homeowners are provided recommendations as to how they can improve their home's energy efficiency. Making such changes may make homeowners eligible for tax breaks or even rebate incentives while reducing the cost of their monthly utility bills. Homeowners hoping to embrace green energy have many options at their disposal. It's just a matter of researching those options and taking the initiative to make changes.

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