While we may be enthusiastic and passionate about supporting and pushing for more sustainable ways of living, the reality is that the communities and cities where we reside sometimes present some serious challenges. For instance, it may be hard to commit to a lifestyle completely powered by renewables, particularly in a country like the Philippines where the renewable energy market has only recently started to expand. To add to that, we must contend with other factors, such as availability and relatively still-high costs for certain technologies, such as home battery storage systems, hybrid cars, or natural gas vehicles.

Because of all these, many people are intimidated and discouraged, wrongly believing it’s impossible to go green or go renewable, given the limitations. But shifting to more sustainable sources of energy isn’t an all-or-nothing deal. There are still many small but smart ways for ordinary people to support renewable energy and gradually introduce it into their lifestyles. We’ve compiled a few of them below.

  1. Maximize solar energy.

When one talks about solar energy, most people automatically think of solar panels and battery storage systems. But there’s another way to harness the power of the sun, which won’t even require specialized equipment and technology. It’s all about using elements in the environment – such as architecture, interior design, and landscaping – to better control the light and heat from the sun. In tropical countries, this involves designing homes and gardens and using building materials that keep the sun’s heat out, especially in the summer, but make the most of natural lighting.

  1. Invest in solar panels.

Active solar energy systems make use of solar panels made of photovoltaic cells that turn sunlight into electricity. These systems also typically include a battery pack that can store electricity for use at night, or during cloudier times of the day. These types of solar power systems can be used by those who want to go completely off-grid, but they are right now more commonly used in tandem with the regular power grid (for back-up). The cost of solar panels have already dropped significantly in the last few years and are expected to fall even more, making them a great investment that will not only lessen your dependence on fossil fuel-based energy, but also help lower the cost of your electricity bills.

  1. Use more energy-efficient appliances.

Energy efficiency and conservation efforts are an important part of the renewable equation, especially during these critical stages of transition from fossil fuel, because they reduce the demand and consumption of electricity, eliminating the need to build more coal plants. To make more efficient use of energy (and save money on your electricity bill in the long run), homes should shift to LED bulbs, and purchase and use appliances that are Energy Star certified.

  1. Drive a hybrid car, or take public transportation.

While hybrid cars are now available in the country, most of them still come with a hefty price tag. Those who want to help cut down on emissions and lower their carbon footprint in general can opt to take public transportation, or set up their own carpooling arrangements. While fossil-fueled buses, shuttles, and carpool vans do still emit carbon dioxide, they improve transportation efficiency and lessen the number of vehicles on the road.

  1. Write to your government.

If you’d like to accelerate the transition to renewable energy, don’t underestimate the power of writing to your district congressman. Tell him or her about any ideas you might have to further mainstream renewables, or ask them about renewable energy projects you’re interested to learn more about. You never know what a little (or a lot of) pressure can do, or what opportunities can open up just by reaching out.