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Climate disruption and environmental degradation have put our planet at risk. From rising temperatures to extreme weather events, we’re noticing that our climate is rapidly changing. The vast percentage of CO2 emissions that is contributing to this change comes from the generation of electricity. And about 40% of the total energy consumed in the United States is used to generate it, making electricity use an important part of every individual’s environmental footprint. In order to reduce our environmental impact, we must first evaluate our energy usage and how we can help fight its pollution.

Energy Usage

Today, an increasing amount of personal energy consumption is electricity from the grid. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer in 2018 was 10,972 kilowatt-hours. That’s an average of 914 kWh per month. In fact, 2018 was the largest increase in energy consumption since 2010.

While we continue to maintain social distancing, we’re finding ourselves spending more time at home, which is resulting in higher energy usage. Across the country commercial and industrial energy demand has been declining while residential energy consumption has been at an all-time high. Stay-at-home orders are critical in helping flatten the curve of COVID-19, but it doesn’t have to result in a huge surge to your home energy usage. Simple adjustments like adjusting your heating or cooling temperature by a few degrees can help lower your energy consumption and even lower your utility bill.

Where Does the Energy Come From?

The United States uses three main groups of energy production; fossil fuels, nuclear energy and renewable energy. Luckily the U.S electricity system has been getting cleaner over the past decade with the help of renewable energy incentives being implemented across the nation, specifically solar.

Private and public players are turning to solar energy generation as a way to reduce the burning of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions. Solar energy remains one of the best options for accessing clean energy. It’s inexpensive, easy to implement and there are no emissions involved during energy production. Solar is a necessary component to getting us on the path to 100% renewable energy. According to the Solar Industry research data, there are now nearly 78 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity installed nationwide. That’s enough to power 14.5 million homes! Solar is by far the most abundant renewable resource.

Peak Hours

One of the easiest ways to reduce the environmental impact of your electricity usage is to use less energy during peak hours. Peak hours are when electricity demand is at its highest. The U.S. hourly electricity load is generally at its highest in the summer months. During those months, high demand energy hours put a strain on the grid. To meet that the high electricity demand, the electrical grid taps into old, dirty power plants to start the generation and supply of energy.

One of the biggest challenges with going 100% renewables is how to handle these spikes during peak hours. Solar and storage technologies hold a potential solution into climate change mitigation. And as more states implement higher percentages of power from renewable projects, there’s no doubt storage will play an important role by storing excess generation. According to SIEA, the growth of solar and storage over the next five years is expected to be significant. More than 25% of all behind-the-meter solar projects will be paired with storage by 2025, compared to under 5% in 2019. Combined, solar and storage will be the key solution to unlocking a more efficient, reliable and sustainable electrical grid.

The shift to renewables offers obvious benefits for the climate and public health, and the path towards a 100% renewable energy future is possible with the help of strong federal policies and declining renewable energy costs. For more information on energy storage capabilities that help out Nexamp’s customers and the grid, visit