What You Can Do
Energy is the very likely the area with the most potential for individuals to make an important difference in sustainability. Make simple changes such as spending less time in the car (combine errand trips, carpool, walk, bike or use public transportation whenever possible) and using less energy at home (turn down the heat, turn off lights and electronics when not in use).
Installing solar is getting easier and more affordable. Some companies lease the panels so that you don’t have to make a large purchase. Other companies install panels that you own so that you realize more of the savings.
Retrofit Baltimore is a non-profit group helping Maryland residents by making it easier and more affordable for residents to go solar and improve overall energy efficiency. Retrofit Baltimore provides information and connects homeowners with vetted and screened contractors. Based on a similar process as buying in bulk, interested homeowners may receive a discount of up to 25%. It is not just for Baltimore residents; Howard County residents are eligible. Here is the Retrofit Baltimore solar webpage. Another local non-profit is doing a similar co-op project. To learn more, visit the Solar United Neighbors Howard County Solar Co-op webpage.
Not ready to install your own solar? Residents can encourage renewable energy by purchasing it through your electric company. BGE and Potomac Edison allow you to change your energy supplier within their system. The Maryland Public Service Commission has developed a very helpful website to compare energy plans, www.mdelectricchoice.com/shop/. Have your electric bill handy – you search by energy supplier and add your energy use estimate. You can filter your search by Renewable options.
Community Solar is the newest way to purchase renewable power. It allows you to purchase a share or subscription to a local solar project. You don’t even have to own a home to participate. Anyone who pays a BGE or Pepco utility bill is eligible. To find a list of Maryland community solar projects visit the non-profit Solar United Neighbors community solar website.
Purchasing Energy Star equipment, appliances and lighting can save businesses, non-profits and residents money by cutting energy use by up to 30%.
Learning more about reducing your carbon footprint can give more incentive form making changes. Lower your carbon footprint and you directly affect climate change for the better. To calculate your carbon footprint, check out the Global Footprint Network and myfootprint.org.
Keep your car maintained and tires full to make the vehicle as efficient as possible. Avoid rapid acceleration and braking.
Carpools, bike, walk whenever you can and combine car trips for errands so that the trip is more efficient.
Try out the County’s Bikeshare program. It has nine stations and 78 bikes.