The world’s energy prices have been soaring for as long as we can remember, and a lot of homeowners have been thinking of the best alternatives to cut their monthly electric bills and one of the go-to ways is – renewable energy.
Suffice to say, renewable energy really does save you loads of money on your bills. In harmony with “Going green makes you lean” in dieting, going green is a money-saving machine also holds true in home improvement. Oh, it doesn’t only let you save money on electric bills but can also (for some households) completely eliminates your electric bill! I guess you’re all ears now, aren’t you? (Or all eyes, rather)
Does net metering system ring a bell? If it doesn’t, let me give you a rundown on how it works and how renewable energy might be the best option to power your homes. In a nutshell, thenetmetering system is a method where the amount of energy produced from your solar panels or generators, which most likely produce more energy than you can use, are measured. So does the excess energy go to waste? NO! The excess energy is then used by utility companies but the best part is – they pay you by crediting or offsetting your bill for the coming months! Sounds good, doesn’t it?
What Are the Other Benefits of Using Renewable Energy at Home?
The main reason why people switch to renewable energy is that it’senvironment-friendly. Whether you’re an avid environmentalist (like me) or just someone who wants to save a couple of bucks, renewable energy can do a great deal on a cleaner source of energy because it doesn’t release any greenhouse gasses, reducing your carbon footprint. Trust me, mother nature will thank you for it!
Fossil fuels like coal and natural gas don’t have an unlimited supply all around the world. So what happens when the entire world runs out of fossil fuel supplies in the future? Your home can be an independent source in terms of electricity production! I don’t think we’ll ever lose the sun, water, and the wind, for that matter!
Aside from the obvious fact that you’re saving thousands and thousands of dollars from your electric bill, solar panels or generators will last over 20 years requiring little maintenance only! And while solar energy technology is advancing year by year, you can expect a more efficient way of utilizing renewable energy in your homes. Who knows, you might just get dibs on a solar-powered mobile phone in the near future!
Even a genius like Albert Einstein believed in the efficacy of renewable energy! Did you know that he won the Nobel Prize in 1921 for his innovative experiments with solar power and photovoltaics? So let’s think like Einstein and consider powering our homes with renewable energy. Here are the top 6 ways to use renewable energy at home.
1 SOLAR PANELS
Solar panels are made of silicone-like photovoltaic cells which act as semiconductors. These cells have both positive and negative layers which in turn, generates an electric field similar to how a battery works. In layman’s terms, photovoltaic means sunlight is converted into electricity.
You can’t just jump right into rooftop solar panel installation because there are a couple of things you must consider before making the big leap. First of all, these solar-powered generators work if there’s abundant sun exposure. More sun means more energy produced. If you’re living in a country which snows more often than in other countries, I hate to burst your bubble but maybe solar panels aren’t for you. If snow accumulates on top of the solar panels, the only way you’re getting energy is through the heat that’s able to pass through. Do you getthe picture?
Next is to estimate the solarpanel cost including installation. These panels aren’t easy on the pocketbook. An average 5-kilowatt size system costs between $3 to $5 per watt which amounts to around $15,000 to $25,000. But if you come to think of it, minimal to no monthly expenses on electric bills can cover for the initial costs. Not to mention, all the government tax incentives that are givento homeowners with solar panels!
2 UNDERGROUND HEAT PUMPS
This works by burying pipes in the land, either horizontally or vertically. Next, a fluid then absorbs heat from the ground inside what they call a “ground loop” or a loop of pipes underground. The compressor then collects all the fluid and increases the temperature causing a heating effect for water and hot water circuits in the house. Voila! You save big bucks on everyday heating usage!
A few reminders though are to check if your backyard is suitable for trench-digging. Next, see to it that your home is well-insulated. These heat pumps outperform traditional boilers and heating systems IFyour home iswell-insulated to produce heat even at low temperatures!
Hydroelectric power produces a whopping 19 percent of the world’s energy! Let’s take into consideration that 71 percent ofthe Earth’s surface is covered with water! Why not give back to mother nature and make use of all the water bodies readily available tohumanity?
Dams are the most common hydroelectric plants which utilizea river to store water in a reservoir which then flows into a turbine and generates electricity. Now, you can use a small-scale hydroelectric power system for a more sustainable energy at home. The best part about using hydropower is it doesn’t depend on fickle elements like the wind or the sun, which means it can power your home day and night all year round!
4 WIND TURBINES
Take a look at the electric fans you use at home. These fans use electricity to produce wind, so you can enjoy sitting pretty onyour couch while watching your favorite Netflix series. Wind turbines work the other way around. They use wind to produce electricity. Now,which of the two sounds more sustainable? The latter, of course!
How do wind turbines work? Wind is probably one of the commonly used natural energies for some recreational activities like kitesurfing, parasailing, or even a means of navigating a boat through its sails! Wind, on the other hand, can generate electricity, depending on its speed and flow patterns, by turning propeller-like blades in a rotor which is connected to the main shaft. The main shaft then gyrates a generator and voila, you’ve got electricity!
Wind turbines can be used in big-scale utilities like commercial buildings or power several homes through a 100-kilowatt up to a couple of megawatts production! But if you want to cut down on your electricity costs at home, using a small turbine which powers less than 100 kilowatts will definitely suffice!
To give you an idea of how biomass energy works, simply put, it’s an organic fuel source! The traditional way of turning biomass intoenergy is by burning it to produce heat. The heat can be used directly or indirectly for cooking, heating, or even better, to form electricity! Biofuel is a by-product of biomass burning and it consists of three types: oils, biodiesel, and ethanol.
Woody biomass includes forest products, wood products, and energy crops. While nonwoodybiomass is mostly comprised of animal manure, biodegradable products, and high-energy crops like sugar cane and maize. Because these biomass resources are proliferatingyear afteryear, you can be sure that you get an unlimitedsupply of biofuels! It’s definitely a great alternative tofossil fuel!
6 SOLAR WATER HEATING
A brilliant innovator, Clarence Kemp, created a wooden box with a tank inside to produce solar energy in 1896 and this is how the solar water heaters originated. They were placed under direct sunlight. These containers were filled with water and absorbed heat from the sun, this heat travels in pipes making its way to water systems in households. Genius, right?
Thereafter, a lot of modern designs for solar water heaters have incorporated cutting-edge pipes, storage containers, and collection equipment to store most of the sun’s energy maximally. Not letting a single ray of sunlight go to waste!
For thousands of years we have been (and still continues) relying on fossil fuels for generating energy. However, solar panels and wind turbines are a common sight nowadays. But is this enough? Definitely, it would be a big NO! If we aim at improving our health, environment and even economy, the ultimate solution for this would be to embrace the-never-run out renewable energy. Depending on the natural resources, reduce the carbon emission and thus cause less impact on the environment. Mere talking and talking won’t do. Each one of us should consider this as their own liability to contribute toa better earth; a better planet.
By Kerry Brooks
She is a passionate blogger who loves to write about home designs, renewable energy innovations and more. She spends her free time hiking, swimming, camping and spending time with her family. She also blogs at GeneratorLab which is a site filled with home energy tips and guides.