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Purchase green energy

Switching to clean energy can build momentum for more clean energy projects. And because it’s accessible to anyone with an internet connection, the 36% of Americans who rent can also participate in supporting clean energy. Voluntary clean energy purchases can have meaningful fossil fuel displacement — called additionality — in a number of utility areas.

What’s Going On

Voluntary clean energy purchase rates for individuals are still low despite 64% of Americans (along with large majorities of Black or African American and Hispanic people) believing that people should choose a green energy provider because it’s the right thing to do. We also find that people don’t feel confident in their ability to purchase clean energy, ranking second to last in self-efficacy for all the behaviors we studied. And since it is intangible, it’s hard for prospective customers to see that others are buying clean energy: 42% of our survey respondents reported thinking that nobody else was buying clean energy.


Americans believe in the community benefits of choosing green energy.  What’s missing is a clear line between that community benefit and an individual’s agency in and responsibility to help support clean energy. This is an opportunity to tailor behavior change programs and messaging to highlight the community benefits of renewable energy programs and to make individual participation visible and socially desirable.

The Impacts

We modeled a 10% increase in households using 100% green energy from a combination of rooftop solar panels, green energy bought from a utility, and solar water heating. We expect an estimated  82 million MtCO2e avoided annually. This results in an avoided cost to society of between $4 to $42 billion per year.

For more information related to the Climate Culture Index research or findings, contact Brandon Schauer at bschauer@rare.org.