For the first time since 1997, the amount of U.S. energy consumed through renewable sources could be higher than the energy used through nuclear power. While the U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest issue of its Monthly Energy Review only has data updated through September 2011, the numbers show a significant difference between the use of each energy source.
In the first nine months of 2011, the U.S. consumed 6.878 quadrillion BTU of power from hydroelectric, geothermal, solar, wind and biomass power sources, all of which are renewable. In the same time frame, there was just 6.173 quadrillion BTU of power consumed from nuclear electric energy. And to put it all in perspective, fossil fuels accounted for 60.417 quadrillion BTU of U.S. energy consumption in that span.
The amount of energy consumed from renewable resources from January through September 2011 indicates a record pace. If the U.S. continued to consume renewable energy at the same rate, it would end the year with 9.171 quadrillion BTU from those sources, by far the most of any year included in the EIA's data.
So you may be wondering, how can you jump on the bandwagon if you haven't already? The EIA laid out a few simple ways to take advantage of renewable energy.
♦ Buy clean energy. The EIA says that at least 50 percent of electrical customers have the option to purchase renewable energy from their current supplier.
♦ Heat your home with wood or biobased pellets. Heating and cooling is directly responsible for 56 percent of your home's energy consumption, according to the EIA. Using a wood stove could cut your electric bill in half.
♦ Opt for products that were created from biomass. The same process used to make biofuels can be used to make plastics, antifreeze, glue and toothpaste.