We can reduce demand for energy, but even as efficient as we can get, we’ll still need energy.  And energy that is not finite, or renewable, is better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wind

Every 100 kilowatt hours of Windsource per month = 2,100 pounds less CO2     emissions per year.

HOW

  • Sign up online at www.xcelenergy.com.
  • Call 800-895-4999.
  • Windsource is offered at 100% coverage or in 100-kWh (kilowatt hours) increments, or blocks.

COST

A residential customer with 100% Windsource, who consumes 675 kWh per month, would pay $2.16 per 100-kWh block more, translating into an increase of about $15 per bill. The Windsource cost is based on total electricity used, so households using less electricity pay less 100-kWh block, and households using more electricity pay more per block. There’s a minimum one-year purchase requirement.

WHY

This is the easiest way to start using renewable energy now that accomplishes very high CO2 emissions reductions. Colorado alone has enough wind energy to supply ~9% of continental U.S. demand.

 

 

 

 

Solar Thermal

Upgrading to a solar hot-water heater to meet about two-thirds of a household’s hot water demand = 2,970 pounds less CO2 emissions per year.

HOW

  • Professional contractors are required because solar heated water systems are individually designed based on an assessment of hot water use, site logistics, and desired storage and back-up technology.
  • The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association’s website lists solar contractors/installers at www.coseia.org.
  • For an overview of the various types of solar energy and how they work, visit the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s website at www.nrel.gov and search for “Solar Energy Basics.”

COST

The cost of a solar thermal system will depend on the system you choose.  On average, solar thermal systems cost between $2,000 and $4,500.  The average Colorado resident with a solar domestic water heater can expect energy savings of about $10 per month ($120 per year).

  • Historically, there has been a Federal Tax Credit; to confirm existing tax credits, visit energytaxincentives.org.
  • There may be rebates available; search the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency at www.dsireusa.org.
  • There may be other incentives available through the local energy provider and municipality.  In Denver, search Xcel Energy’s website at www.xcelenergy.com, and for Denver City search www.denvergov.org.

WHY

Approximately 11% of a home’s energy is used to heat water.  Solar hot water systems provide an excellent opportunity  to reduce our consumption of natural gas and propane, while taking advantage of a simple renewable energy technology.

 

 

 

 

Solar Electric / Photovoltaic (PV)

One kilowatt PV panel (generating about 1,450 kilowatt hours annually) = 2,552 pounds less CO2 emissions per year.

HOW

  • Call a solar contractor to get bids. Installers typically deal with the Xcel rebate, and federal tax credits are based on the buyer’s cost of the system.
  • The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association’s website lists solar contractors/installers at www.coseia.org.
  • There are also leasing and power purchase agreement options, in which PV panels are installed on a home’s roof, but are actually owned by another party. The PV panel owner pays the upfront costs, and the resident agrees to purchase the energy generated by the PV panels over a long period of time, typically 20 years.
  • Another option is a “solar garden,” which is a group shared solar array with grid-connected subscribers. The electricity generated by the array offsets the energy bills of the subscribers.

COST

Out-of-pocket costs (after rebates and tax credits) range from about $3,500 for a 1 kilowatt system generating ~1,450 kWh per year to about $10,500 for a 3 kilowatt system generating ~4,350 kWh per year.  Annual savings from systems are from $130 per year for a 1 kilowatt system to $390 for a 3 kilowatt system.

  • Power purchase agreement costs and savings vary on the terms: some plans go for $0 out-of-pocket costs, others have upfront costs with substantially lower monthly electricity bills.
  • Shares at a solar garden array in Boulder in 2013 cost $896.50 for a 235 watt panel and $925 for a 250 watt panel.

WHY

Coal-powered electricity emits 1.75 pounds of CO2 emissions for every 1 (one) kilowatt hour of energy used; average household kilowatt-hour usage is from ~600-1,000 kilowatt hours per month. Coal and natural gas electricity generation together account for about 38% of a Denverite’s carbon footprint, and almost 80% of Colorado’s electricity is generated from coal and almost 20% from natural gas.

Coal-powered plants also emit soot, lead, chromium, arsenic, hydrogen chloride, mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides (which, when mixed with sunshine, create smog, a ground-level ozone pollution).

Another concern for the Denver environment is that an average coal-fired power plant uses more than 25 gallons of water for every 1 (one) kilowatt hour produced, which translates into about 15,000 gallons for an average Denver household per month!