There are plenty of buzzwords when it comes to where your electricity and heat comes from. If you're trying to do the right thing for the planet, you might be baffled by some of the terms that are tossed around. In particular, renewable, clean, and green are all often used to refer to 'better' varieties of energy, but it can be confusing as to what each one really means. Here's the simple breakdown of the difference between these three terms.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy, as the name implies, is any kind of energy source that's easily renewed. For example, renewable energy could include sources like geothermal energy, since the heat is produced by the planet and is readily available. However, renewable energy can also include some sources that aren't as safe for the environment.

For example, renewable energy sometimes includes natural gases. This gets a pass under the umbrella term 'renewable' because, at this time, natural gases are so abundant in the ground. Since the term renewable simply means that it isn't reducing a source to zero, there are some less eco-friendly sources that can be considered renewable energy.

Clean Energy

Clean energy specifically refers to energy sources that cause little to no pollution through their use. As a result, clean energy includes things like wind energy, solar power, and water turbine electricity. All three of these sources also count as renewable, so if you see a power company describe its energy as both clean and renewable, it's most likely referring solely to the clean varieties of renewable energy.

If you're looking to change your electric company in order to be as good to the planet as you can, clean energy is one of the best choices you can make.

Green Energy

Lastly, green energy is an umbrella term that can be extremely vague. The word 'green' isn't controlled by any agency or required to meet certain standards. While green energy is typically associated with healthy, safe energy sources that don't harm the planet, there's no guarantee that a company describing itself as offering green energy is limiting itself solely to clean energy sources.

If you're interested in an energy company that claims to be green, make sure to do your research before signing any paperwork. Ask them exactly where their energy sources come from and what steps they take to ensure that they're renewable and clean.

Doing what's right for the planet can be tricky at times, but changing your electricity company to one that's clean is one of the best choices you can make. If you're unsure about the offerings of any one company, don't be afraid to ask. Any reputable clean energy company will gladly offer up the answers to your questions and you'll probably be pleased by what you hear.