Since the first electrical grid system started humming away, electricity has been rooted in everyday American life. But it’s a technology that is always changing, always charging forward.

The way we use electricity has also changed. Namely, the demand for electricity has steadily increased. Demand has gotten so high the Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that energy use will double worldwide by 2040. Equipment like circuit breakers and surge protectors have been developed to help supply electricity safely, but that’s far from where the innovation ends.

Today, there are a few factors that are playing a pivotal role in how we use electricity, how it’s supplied and how much we pay for it.

Shopping Around for an Electric Provider

More and more cities are becoming deregulated energy areas. That means electricity isn’t provided by a single city-approved provider or the city itself. Numerous electric providers can serve the area and residents get to pick who they want to work with.

This is giving consumers a lot more control over their electricity use, and it’s completely different than how things have worked in the past. The problem right now is finding an efficient way to compare providers, plans, and rates. However, there are a few websites that allow people to compare electric providers in a specific region. You can visit this website to get more information on how that process works.

Going Green With Renewable Energy Sources

Our electricity options have expanded in another key way. We can now choose how our electricity is generated. Petroleum, natural gas, and coal are still the top three energy sources in the U.S. but that could soon change. In states like Texas, where there’s an ample supply of wind and solar energy, residents can select green energy plans. These plans source the majority or all of the electricity provided through renewable energy.

Home Grown Electricity

If a green energy plan isn’t eco-friendly enough you can always go off the grid by producing your own power. In the last decade, the use of solar panel systems has exploded. Experts are anticipating the use of solar panels will increase in coming years now that the technology has improved and cost has gone down.

There are also a number of programs and tools that are helping to revolutionize home grown electricity.

State and Federal Rebates – Powering the country is a big job for state and federal legislatures. It’s in their best interest to encourage more people to produce clean power. One way they’re doing that is by offering rebates on eco-friendly equipment like solar hot water heaters and solar panel systems.

Google’s Project Sunroof – One of the trickiest parts of maximizing solar power production is positioning the panels for full exposure. Last year Google launched Project Sunroof to help solve this problem. Using their Google Earth imagery their new tool can tell you the best placement based on the roof’s shape, movements of the sun, local weather and surrounding vegetation.

Provider Payment Programs – Many electric providers across the country are also helping customers pay for solar power systems. The provider will cover the setup expenses, and instead of paying for electricity every month, you can use that money to pay them back for the panels.

Products With High Electricity Demand

People have good reason to expand their energy producing options – we require more energy today than ever before. So much so, homes that were built in the 1960s and earlier rarely have an electrical system that can handle the needs of today’s average family. Builders back then had no way of knowing the types of electronics that would be found in modern day homes.

One of the biggest changes is in the garage. Electric cars are no longer a novelty. More people are deciding to swap their gas guzzlers for electric vehicles they can charge at home. As you can imagine, this requires an ample energy supply and sometimes a special charging station also has to be installed.

Flat screen TVs are another big electricity consumer in the home. According to EIA televisions account for 6% of annual electricity use in the home. Just one large screen TV in the living room can increase electricity demand, but the average U.S. home has three televisions.

In general, we use tons of devices. Smart phones, tablets, DVRs, laptops, cooking equipment – homes are full of electric devices. On their own, they don’t require much power but together the demand quickly escalates.

All of these factors are adding to our need for more electricity as well as how we meet those needs. At both ends of the spectrum sits the technology that’s moving the industry forward.