How to find a green energy provider

… tips and initiatives.

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This month’s newsletter from Lyme Regis’ Transition Town group gives us some practical tips on energy:

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GREEN ENERGY SPECIAL
HELPING YOU TO REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

Green energy is electricity derived from natural resources  – such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, biomass and thermal energy.  This renewable energy can be used to generate power with minimal releasing of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.  This is a much more sustainable way of creating electricity and is far better for the environment than traditional fossil fuels, such as oil, coal and natural gas which lead to the accumulation of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

Changing to a green energy provider for our gas and electricity is one of the easiest ways for us to reduce our carbon footprint.  Most energy suppliers will use a mix of renewable sources (green) and fossil fuel generated (brown), as the Government stipulates that all electricity suppliers must buy some renewable electricity in the mix of their provision.  So, when we are looking for a green energy provider, we need to find out what proportion of the supply is renewable.  Some tariffs will be 100% renewable and others will be moderately green with a mixture of green and brown sources.  Some are as low as 3% renewables in their mix.  Providers will also talk about off-setting their carbon usage by, for example, planting trees.  However, whether you choose an environmentally friendly energy supplier or a mainly fossil fuels provider – your electricity will come from exactly the same electricity mains grid and will be a mixture of green and brown energy.  This is confusing because we may be paying more for our green energy supply, although costs are becoming more competitive all the time.  The point is that people who overall want to improve the environment and reduce carbon emissions choose a green energy provider because it contributes to the increase of new renewable electricity in the main grid and supports employment in the green sector.

Town Councillor and Turn Lyme Green friend, Belinda Bawden, reported that Lyme Regis Town Council has reaffirmed its commitment to the climate and environmental action needed to work towards its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030.  In a recent article in Lyme Online she encouraged local people to consider switching to a green energy supplier if they had not already done so. There are numerous renewable electricity tariffs on the market, which is why it is really important to do your “homework” when changing supplier, as you want to go with a company which is genuinely committed to high environmental standards, rather than a company that is  jumping on the bandwagon and trying to appear greener than they really are.  It is very easy for a company to make green claims and it is explained rather well in this article in Which Magazine from September 2019.  Click here.  The article also contains a list of energy providers and has a diagram showing which companies use 100% renewable electricity tariffs, and how other providers compare.  The article suggests we also consider the following environmental measures when choosing a supplier:

  • Green or carbon neutral gas
  • Carbon offsetting
  • Tree planting
  • Donations to Community projects

We hope to point you in the right direction if you are trying to find your way through the maze of information about renewable energy.  The top green energy suppliers invest money in building a sustainable future through their own solar and wind farms and innovative green tech development.  This comes at a price and some of the 100% renewable energy providers may be more expensive than your standard tariff.  With this in mind, it is worth shopping around and comparing prices.
Our most up to date information about the top three most environmentally friendly providers comes from the Energy Saving Trust (an independent organisation dedicated to promoting energy efficiency, low carbon transport and sustainable energy use).   These are the top three suppliers the Trust identified from information available at the time (February 2020) and all three clearly list the renewable sources of their energy on their websites:

  • Good Energy   They offer a £100 incentive to households in Lyme Regis who switch both gas and electricity to them, an offer open until end December 2020. They will also make a £50 donation to environmental charity, Friends of the Earth, and will send you a further £50 if you refer a friend. Claim your credit with Referral Code: Good Home (you can also phone 0800 254 0034 option1)
  • Green Energy UK
  • Ecotricity  The company has a special offer of £60 donation to Lyme-Regis based reforestation charity, The Word Forest Organisation, or £50 to the South West Green Party or environmental charity, Friends of the Earth. The donation will continue for every year you remain a customer

Below are some other 100% renewable energy providers that have developed good reputations:

  • Bulb   They have a ‘Refer a Friend’ policy which gives a £50 credit to the friend who refers you and £50 to your Bulb account
  • Tonik Energy
  • Octopus   They achieved first place in the 2019 Which? survey of top renewable energy companies. You can also claim a £50 Referral Reward when you switch, plus £50 for the friend who referred you
  • Utility Warehouse  They offer Green Initiatives for certain customers; such as the planting of a tree for every new customer who takes all of their services, a donation to the environmental charity Plastic Oceans, install free Smart Meters and fit free LED light bulbs.

Check and double-check the tariffs, any conditions or tie-ins and exit fees before committing to a new energy provider.  Some of the above offers may be time limited and you may need to access the offer via the name of the charity you are interested in supporting as the company website may not show it.

ENERGY SAVING INITIATIVES
Other ways of reducing your carbon footprint are by insulating your home and other energy saving initiatives.  For example, the New Green Homes Grant could offer up to £5,000 in vouchers if you meet the eligibility criteria.  The new free government eligibility checker tool is a useful starting place.

There is also a useful guide to the scheme in Money Saving Expert on their website.   You will need to investigate soon as work must be completed by end March 2021.

Belinda would also like to hear from you if you would like to get involved in Community Energy Projects, including:

  • getting a group together large enough to talk to a contractor about obtaining a group discount on retrofitting homes to make them more energy efficient, such as insulation
  • consider a community energy generations scheme
  • working on a potential solar project

We hope you will find great ways of saving energy, protecting the environment and staying warm this winter!

https://turnlymegreen.co.uk

   
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