When it comes to energy sources, alternative is the new mainstream. Or at least it’s about to be. Electric cars, self-sustaining homes and wind-powered manufacturing facilities are signals that alternative energy is on the rise.

But does going green seem unobtainable for you personally? Whether on behalf of the environment or due to the draw of lowering your monthly power bills, alternative energy sources are becoming more and more accessible. They offer the chance to take the power into your own hands.

The first step for beginners? That big yellow ball in the sky: The sun.

Solar Power

Solar power is arguably the best starting point for any newbie looking to change to a better form of energy. The necessary equipment is relatively cheap and it’s literally everywhere. When first starting, the trick to the switch is baby steps. Wind Solar Energy suggests, “If you want to start small, yet save as much money as you can, you can power just one appliance at a time with solar energy”.

First, you’ll need to isolate appliances that are in both constant use and sporadic use. Intermittent or selectable loads are appliances or energy usage that are sporadically used throughout the day. Things like microwaves, dishwashers and televisions count as selectable loads because they are not left on indefinitely, while appliances like refrigerators are classified in the constant use category1.

Once you’ve discerned your ‘problem appliance’, it’s time to find the solar kit that’s right for you. Many home improvement stores offer easy-to-use “off the grid” solar kits ranging from $50-$500, allowing you to pick your build’s strength and scope. These nifty kits can be quickly rigged in either your front or backyard (in areas of consistent sunlight) and then wired to the device of your choice.

Easy as pie, you can light your way with solar-powered lights. And the host of useful mobile apps make ‘easy as pie’ even easier.

Technology and Phone Apps

Currently, most electric companies (especially those based in California) offer substantial rebates and incentives for “greening” up your house. Southern California Edison, for instance, offers sizeable rebates on everything from energy-friendly thermostats to air-conditioner units2.

There’s also a fair share of phone apps for both Apple and Android phones that that can directly analyze your power usage and even suggest how to cut back on your expenditures. These all-star apps notify you of peak hours, giving you a heads-up on when to go dark and will track your monthly energy savings.

With electric companies heavily incentivizing conscientious power usage and armed with apps that monitor peak hours, it’s all the easier to earn green while going green.

The Power is Yours

The choices that can change the world start with a single step. In this case, it’s the choice to power a single appliance with an alternative energy source or to pay closer attention to the monthly electric bill. And if enough individuals take the first step in the same direction, we will be one step closer to 10 million healthy homes and a brighter tomorrow.

1 Wind Solar Energy. Powering Just One Appliance with Wind and Solar Energy. windsolarenergy.org
2 Southern California Edison. Rebates and Incentives. sce.com