How Do I Find Out Where My Energy Comes From?

Knowing where your electricity comes from is important for several reasons. First, it allows you to understand the environmental impact of your energy use. Electricity generated from fossil fuels like coal and natural gas produces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. In contrast, renewable sources like solar, wind and hydropower have much lower emissions.

Second, knowing your electricity sources gives you the power to make choices. If you want to reduce your environmental footprint, you can switch to a utility company or program that provides cleaner power. You may even be able to install solar panels or use green power from renewable energy certificates.

Finally, it enables you to advocate for change. Understanding where your energy comes from allows you to push for legislation and policies that increase renewable energy and phase out fossil fuel power plants. The more that consumers are empowered with information, the more momentum there can be for a transition to clean energy.

This article will overview the main ways you can find out exactly where your electricity is generated. Read on to understand your energy mix and ways to support renewable sources.

Check Your Electricity Bill

Electric bills often list the energy sources that are used to power your home. This is one of the easiest ways to find out exactly where your electricity comes from. Look for a pie chart or table that shows the fuel mix – this details the percentage of your electricity that comes from various energy sources like coal, natural gas, nuclear, renewables, etc.

Focus on the percentages – a higher percentage means that source makes up more of your electricity. For example, if coal is 50% and natural gas is 20%, then half your power comes from coal plants and a fifth from natural gas plants. Seeing the exact breakdown allows you to understand what is used to produce your electricity.

Some utility bills will also show the location of the power plants, allowing you to know where your electrons were generated. Pay attention to how much comes from local sources versus distant ones. This can give you a sense of how far your electricity traveled before powering your home.

Looking at your electric bill regularly can help track changes over time as the fuel mix evolves. Many utilities are transitioning to cleaner sources and retiring coal plants, which may alter the percentages. Checking each month or quarter lets you monitor their progress.

Look Up Your Utility Company

To find out where your electricity comes from, look up the utility company that provides your electricity. In many areas, you have the ability to choose your electricity provider. Do some research to see if there are multiple utility companies in your region.

Utility companies are required to publicly disclose information about their energy sources and mix of generation. This is usually presented as a pie chart showing the percentage of total electricity supply coming from coal, natural gas, nuclear, renewables like solar and wind, and any other sources.

Utilities must file annual reports with state public utility commissions and energy agencies. These filings outline details about electricity generation sources, fuel mixes, power plants, and more. You can search the name of your utility company along with “generation mix report” or something similar to find their latest data.

Understanding the energy mix percentages and sources your utility pulls from is an important starting point to learn where your electricity originates. Compare their disclosures over recent years to see any shifts in energy sources.

Use Databases to Lookup Sources

Several databases allow you to look up exactly where your electricity comes from. These databases compile information provided by utilities and state agencies to give consumers transparency into energy sources.

The EPA’s Power Profiler tool at allows you to enter your zip code to see the mix of energy sources providing power in your area. You can view percentages for coal, natural gas, nuclear, renewables like solar and wind, and more. The tool draws on detailed data from the EPA’s Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID).

The Energy Information Administration’s Electricity Data Browser at also allows searching by zip code to see net generation by energy source. You can view what percentage comes from coal, natural gas, petroleum, hydroelectric, wind, solar, and other sources.

Many state public utility commissions also provide energy source mix information or tools. For example, California has an online Power Content Label tool at that lets you see energy resource percentages for the major utilities in the state.

Using these databases can give you granular insight into exactly where your electricity originates from. The mix of sources may surprise you and spur you to advocate for more renewable power.

Understand Different Energy Sources

Electricity can be generated from a variety of energy sources, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Here’s an overview of the major sources:


Coal is an abundant and relatively inexpensive energy source. However, burning coal produces air pollution and greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Coal mining also impacts the environment.

Natural Gas

Natural gas burns cleaner than coal and has become more widely available and affordable due to fracking. However, natural gas is still a fossil fuel that produces emissions. Extraction methods like fracking raise environmental concerns.


Nuclear power does not generate air pollution or greenhouse gases while operating. However, it does produce radioactive waste. There are also safety concerns and risks associated with nuclear accidents.


Renewable sources like solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric generate electricity with far fewer environmental impacts. However they currently make up a relatively small percentage of US electricity generation. Cost and reliability remain challenges.

Using Green Power

person looking at electric bill showing breakdown of energy sources used by utility provider
One way to support renewable energy is by switching to a green power plan from your electricity provider. Green power comes from renewable sources like wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower. Many utility companies now offer options to purchase green power.

To switch to green power, first review the options offered by your electricity provider. Many provide a certain percentage of green power, like 25%, 50% or 100%. Choose the percentage you’d like. There may be a small premium for choosing green power, as it is generally a bit more expensive to produce than conventional power.

Once you’ve selected a green power plan from your utility company, follow their instructions to enroll. This may require calling their customer support line or changing your plan through your online account. The switch happens on the utility company’s end, so you don’t need to change anything with your home’s electricity.

By opting for green power through your utility, you support the growth of renewable energy. Your dollars go toward companies investing in wind turbines, solar farms, and other sustainable power sources. While no power plan is 100% emissions free, green power helps reduce your carbon footprint.

Install Solar Panels

Installing solar panels on your home is one way to use renewable energy and reduce your dependence on utilities. The upfront cost of solar panels has dropped dramatically in recent years, making it more affordable for the average homeowner.

Typical residential solar panel systems today cost anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000, depending on the size of your system and other factors. However, various rebates, tax credits, and other incentives can lower your out-of-pocket expenses substantially.

The federal solar tax credit allows you to deduct 26% of your solar installation costs from your federal taxes. Many local and state governments also offer additional rebates and incentives that can cover up to 50% or more of your solar panel system costs.

When getting quotes for installation, make sure to ask solar companies to calculate all potential incentives to get your true net costs. Leasing options are also available if you don’t want to purchase a system upfront.

The installation process typically takes anywhere from one day to a few weeks, depending on system size. Panels are mounted on your roof or in your yard to maximize sun exposure. Your solar company will handle all permitting and inspections to get your system approved and connected to the grid.

Once installed, solar panels require little maintenance beyond occasional panel cleaning. They are warrantied to produce electricity for typically 25-30 years. Going solar gives you energy independence while reducing your environmental impact.

Advocate for Renewables

In addition to using green energy at home, you can advocate for more renewable energy in your community and region. Contact your elected representatives and call on them to support policies that increase renewable energy generation. For example, ask them to vote for renewable portfolio standards that require utilities to procure more electricity from wind, solar, geothermal, and other clean sources. You can also write letters to the editor of your local newspaper in support of renewable energy policies.

Get involved with local environmental or renewable energy advocacy groups. These organizations lobby for clean energy policies and keep the public engaged on these issues. Support them by volunteering or donating money. You can also speak up at public hearings and town halls when your utility company is proposing any changes to its energy mix or rate plans. Voice your opinion that they should invest more in wind and solar power.

On a smaller scale, talk to your neighbors and friends about the benefits of renewable energy. Word of mouth can help shift public opinion and build momentum for policy changes in your community. Setting an example by using green power yourself can be a convincing way to demonstrate the viability of solar panels or enrolling in a 100% wind energy program through your utility.

Reduce Your Energy Use

One of the best ways to know where your energy is coming from and to reduce your environmental impact is to simply use less energy. Here are some tips for reducing your energy use through conservation and efficiency:

Replace old appliances and devices – When your old appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, and AC units need replacing, choose new ENERGY STAR certified models. They use much less electricity while providing the same functionality.

Switch to LED lightbulbs – Replacing incandescent and CFL bulbs with LEDs can reduce lighting electricity use by up to 80%. They also last years longer. Swap out lights one by one or all at once.

Unplug devices when not in use – Vampire energy loss from idle devices can add up fast. Unplug electronics like TVs, phone chargers, and coffee makers when you’re away or not using them.

Adjust your thermostat – Keep your home cooler in winter and warmer in summer. Install a programmable or smart thermostat to better regulate temperatures when you’re out of the house.

Seal drafts and insulate – Prevent heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer by sealing cracks and gaps around windows and doors. Increase insulation in your attic, walls, and floors.

Use fans and open windows – Strategically use fans and open windows on nice days to circulate fresh air. This can reduce AC usage in summer.

Wash clothes in cold water – Heating water comprises about 90% of the energy your washing machine uses. Wash clothes in cold water to drastically cut machine energy use.

Change your habits – Simple habit changes like turning off lights, taking shorter showers, and lowering your water heater temperature can really add up in energy savings.


Knowing where your energy comes from is incredibly important. By checking your electricity bills, researching your utility provider, and using public databases, you can get a clear picture of the energy sources that power your home.

It’s essential to understand the benefits and drawbacks of different energy sources like coal, natural gas, nuclear, solar, wind, and more. Some provide cheap and abundant power but have environmental impacts. Others are sustainable but can be more expensive.

You have options to choose renewable energy, install solar panels, or advocate for more clean energy in your community. And simple steps like energy efficiency and conservation can reduce your energy use and dependence on non-renewable sources.

Overall, being an informed energy consumer and making choices that support clean energy are vital steps toward building a sustainable future. Knowing your energy origins puts the power in your hands to make a difference.

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