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There are a lot of things we can do to reduce our environmental impact, but some of them like solar panels and electric cars are not options for many of us. If you live in an apartment, you can’t install solar panels, and electric cars are still too expensive for the average car buyer.
We can do the small stuff like recycle our glass and paper, bring reusable bags when we go shopping, and buy second-hand items but it’s not enough. Clean energy has been in the news a lot in the last several years as part of a broader discussion around climate change.
Wind energy and solar power are sources of clean energy. What if there was a way to get a portion of your home’s electricity sourced from solar and wind power with no additional cost and without the hassle of changing electricity providers?
Sounds like a win-win doesn’t it? There has been a lot of buzz around Arcadia Power generated by people who want to go green and people who want to save green. Can this new company help you do both? Check out our Arcadia Power review and find out.
We Don’t Have Much Time
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that climate change is a significant issue facing the entire world. If you did miss this story, let me catch you up.
Your rock is going to be underwater soon so you might want to look for a new place to live!
Climate change and the problems it causes is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity. And if you think those problems are far in the future, you’re wrong. A recently released report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change described:
A world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population. Avoiding the most serious damage requires transforming the world economy within just a few years, said the authors, who estimate that the damage would come at a cost of $54 trillion.
It’s always hard to understand how big dollar amounts are once the numbers are in the trillions so let’s look at some of the costliest natural disasters ever recorded. The costs have been adjusted for inflation to represent 2017/18 dollars:
- 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami Japan $411.3 billion
- 2005 Hurrican Katrina United States $164.9 billion
- 2017 Hurrican Harvey United States $129.5 billion
- 1994 Northridge earthquake United States $81 billion
The potential impact of unaddressed climate change will be equivalent to 131 Tohoku earthquakes and tsunamis (to date the world’s costliest disaster), 327 Katrinas, 416 Harveys, or 666 Northridge earthquakes.
Four of the world’s most expensive disasters combined still only come to seven hundred eighty-six billion seven hundred million dollars.
$54 Trillion is a Lot of Money
Let’s put it another way. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the total economic output of a country. In 2017, the top biggest world economies by GDP were:
1. United States – $19.39 trillion
2. China – $12.24 trillion
3. Japan – $4.87 trillion
4. Germany – $3.68 trillion
5. UK – $2.62 trillion
6. India – $2.60 trillion
7. France – $2.58 trillion
8. Brazil – $2.06 trillion
9. Italy – $1.93 trillion
10. Canada – $1.65 trillion
Which totals $53.62 trillion, still short of the estimated $54 trillion unchecked climate change is estimated to cost.
Are you getting it now?
If we don’t start acting fast and decisively, we are alllll screwed. I know that the year 2040 sounds far away, but it’s not. It’s only 22 years from this writing. Not some distant date in the future when it doesn’t matter because we’ve colonized (and set about ruining) Mars but well within our lifetimes.
And while the problem is bigger than any of us individually, there are things we can do collectively to turn the tide. Switching from traditional to renewable sources of electricity is one of them.
What is Arcadia Power?
Arcadia Power was founded in 2014 by Kiran Bhatarju who comes from Kentucky coal country and wanted to make renewable energy sources like wind power and solar energy more widely available.
Arcadia is an energy marketplace that allows customers to tap into lower-cost green energy resources like wind farms and solar panels that already exist.
Remember when we said that fast, decisive action needs to be taken to combat climate change?
Arcadia power is moving fast.
Less than one year after the founding, they had members in all 50 states. Less than two years later, they launched the Free Wind Energy program. Just three months after that, they start the first nationwide Community Solar program.
In 2017, price alerts became available in 13 states, and as of this year, they have more than 175,000 customer accounts.
How Does Arcadia Work?
Before you can understand how Arcadia works, you have to understand a little about how electricity works. Before writing this, I had no idea. All I knew was that when I flipped a light switch, the light came on.
Our electricity comes from a variety of resources including nuclear, coal, natural gas, the sun, and the wind. Once generated, it’s sent through the national power grid and then to our homes through power lines.
Once on the grid, all power is the same; there is no way to distinguish between renewable and non-renewable sources.
When you become an Arcadia Power customer, renewable energy is sent to power your home through those existing power lines. Arcadia buys Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) which allows them to provide renewable energy from a variety of sources to customers. What is a REC?
Renewable Energy Certificates are tradable, non-tangible energy commodities in the United States that represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource. RECs simply incentivize carbon-neutral renewable energy by providing a production subsidy to electricity generated from renewable sources.
These certificates are used by states and the federal government to track renewable energy. Okay, wait, what? How does this help the environment?
Supply and demand.
When there’s a demand for renewable energy, there is a financial incentive for governments and businesses to invest in it. And that’s good for the environment and everyone who has to live in it which is literally everyone.
When you sign up to become an Arcadia Power customer, the company buys RECs on your behalf which means that at least 50% of the electricity you use will come from renewable energy sources.
This Sounds Like A Lot of Work
It’s not! You hardly have to do anything to become an Arcadia Power customer and do your part to take advantage of green energy. You don’t have to switch electricity providers. Whatever company you use now, you will continue to use.
Arcadia offers two plans.
The free plan costs nothing and using it will mean that 50% of the energy you use will come from renewable energy sources.
The premium plan costs about $10 per month (above your usual utility bill) for the average home and means that 100% of your home’s energy comes from renewable energy sources.
Now, at LMM we are all about saving money, but some things are more important than money, yes? Buying and installing solar panels is a steep upfront cost (made up for in long-term savings) and not even an option for us apartment dwellers.
But an additional $10 a month isn’t going to break most of us. And if it is, you need some budgeting help! I think an extra $10 a month on your electric bill is a pretty good trade-off to help increase demand for clean energy.
As an additional incentive, Arcadia is currently offering four free LED light bulbs when you upgrade to the premium plan.
To find out if Arcadia Power is available in your area, fill out the online form on the site. Enter your zip code, current utility provider, name and email address.
If the service is available in your area, you can now create your account. You’ll connect your current utility account with the username and password. Arcadia verifies the account, and then you’ll connect a payment method. You can pay with your bank account, debit card number, or a credit card.
The only other information required to create a new account is your address.
Your power bill will now go to Arcadia, and they will pay it from your connected payment method. This lets Arcadia get an accurate measure of renewable energy versus traditional energy power mix.
Arcadia will pay your bill as soon as they receive it, not on the due date. That doesn’t make any difference to me and probably won’t to most of you either, but it’s just something to be aware of.
There is a lot of neat information on your Dashboard screen. You can see your energy usage, and how much of it comes from clean energy sources and the equivalent amount of CO2 the clean energy has kept out of the environment.
Arcadia has a referral program which you can track here. For each person who signs up with your provided referral link, you get $25. For the month of December, Arcadia is sweetening the pot. If you get 25 sign-ups, you’ll earn $1,000!
The Price Alerts program monitors the energy market looking for discounted electricity supply deals. If one is found, you’ll be notified by email that Arcadia has locked in the lower price for you. This program is not yet widely available and currently not available in my area.
Community Solar Program
If you don’t own your own home, you have no option to install solar panels. Or maybe you just can’t afford them. But with Arcadia’s Community Solar Program, you can still take advantage of solar power.
You can “buy” solar panels that are already in use on a remote solar project. The more you buy, the more you save. Solar credits will be applied to your Arcadia Power bill each month depending on the production of your Community Solar share.
The panels are $100 each, and you can see an estimate of how much they can save you each month. It’s estimated at a $1 per month per panel savings.
How much you save will vary, and you can expect the savings to be most significant during the summer.
Home Efficiency Savings
Arcadia allows you to buy energy efficient products like a Nest thermostat and LED lighting at no upfront cost. They send the products to you, and you pay for them over time through the savings those products generate every month.
There is also a neat list of 31 things you can do to make your home more energy efficient — things like keeping your clothes dryer exhaust clean, using power strips, cleaning the coils on your refrigerator, and using draft guards under your doors.
Each tip shows you a rating for how much effort it requires and the level of savings it generates. You can add the tips to a to-do list and mark them complete as you do each one.
Another way Arcadia Power helps customers save money is through the Price Alerts program. Arcadia monitors the energy market looking for discounted electricity supply deals. If one is found, you’ll be notified by email that Arcadia has locked in the lower price for you. This program is not yet widely available and currently not available in my area.
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Should You Do It?
Yes! I have written a lot of reviews for a lot of different products and services, but this is the first one that I’ve actually been excited by. My carbon footprint is already smaller than the average American because I don’t have kids and I don’t drive but guys, I live in New Orleans.
I love living here, and I don’t want the damn place to be underwater (again).
While real change is going to have to come from governments, every little bit we can do helps.
I’m not a hardcore environmentalist by any stretch. I don’t cut up old t-shirts into rags and use them to clean my apartment, I don’t have a composting bin, and there is no way I’m going to give up eating meat because it is too delicious.
But I do the little stuff that a lot of you probably do too. I don’t buy bottled water, I use a Britta pitcher and carry a reusable, BPA free bottle. No paper or plastic bags from stores. I have reusable tote bags that I take when I go shopping for anything, not just food shopping.
I also do weird things I picked up from my grandmother. She grew up during the Depression, so she did these things to save money not the environment. But they do both. If I use tinfoil for something and it’s not dirty, I smooth it out and put in the drawer to use again. If it is a little bit dirty, I wipe it off and save it.
The same with sandwich bags. If you put a chunk of cheese in those, how dirty is it? Not dirty enough that you can’t put something else in it after you’ve eaten the cheese. If you’re a germ freak, you’re probably gagging, but I haven’t given myself food poisoning yet!
I’ll guess that most of you are like me. You do the little stuff, maybe a few of the big things that are environmentally friendly but not much more than that. But we all have to do better. That’s the great thing about Acadia Power though and the reason I’m excited about it.
It’s doing a little thing, almost nothing really given that all you have to do is create an account and enter the login information for your current utility account. But the impact is pretty, well, impactful! Individually and collectively.
Individually because you are using less energy from non-renewable, non-clean energy sources, and collectively, because the more of us who sign up with Arcadia Power, the more demand we are creating for wind power and solar power.
So where is this in the hierarchy of things LMM would like you all to do?
That should tell you all you need to know about how serious we are about recommending this service.