People choose to use renewable energy for a number of different reasons. We all know and appreciate the effect that burning fossil fuels is having on our environment. The carbon dioxide released during the process is affecting the climate and contributing to global warming. So reducing this problem is one valid reason. Powering a home without having to rely on big energy companies is another. There are a number of benefits to be gained from switching to greener energy. Your fuel bills will be lower, air and water will be cleaner. If you’re considering the switch but are a little confused about the options, here is a guide that will help.
What Do We Mean by Renewable Energy?
Before looking at your options, it’s best to clarify what renewable energy is. It is a term that refers to energy collected from renewable sources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, geothermal heat and waves. Some of these may not be suitable for the average householder, but there are a number that can be easily incorporated into your home. In the US, there is a heavy reliance on coal, oil and natural gas for energy. However, these are non-renewable. The resources used are finite and are rapidly running out. Renewable energy sources, on the other hand, are constantly replenished and will never run out.
Different Types of Renewable Energy
A number of renewable energy options revolve around sunlight. For example, solar energy is the direct conversion of sunlight using panels or collectors. Other types also rely on the sun, but in different ways. Wind and hydroelectric power are a result of the differential heating of the Earth’s surface. Biomass energy uses stored sunlight which is contained in plants. Not all renewable energy is suitable for your home. Here are some of the options if you want to have a greener and more energy efficient home.
Rooftop Solar Panels
This is the most popular method used by people wanting to use renewable energy. A solar installation Los Angeles or anywhere else in the world will require the setting of solar panels on your roof or in your yard. On average, a home consumes around a kilowatt of power. It is possible to generate 10 or more watts per square foot from solar panels.This means your power needs are more than covered.
One option that is popular for homeowners renewing their roof is to invest in solar shingles.Traditional panels are installed on top of the roof that is already there. Solar shingles take the place of your roof tiles.
The downside of solar panels is obvious. When the sun isn’t shining, they are not so useful. This is why they are often used in combination with other renewable energy systems or used alongside grid electricity.
Solar Water Heating
The power of sunshine can also be harnessed to heat your home. A solar water heater heats a water reserve that is then pumped through radiators or used in your shower or faucets. When compared with heating water using gas or electricity it is much cheaper. Installing a system is also much easier than solar panels. It can be a good stepping stone to use if you’re not completely committed to renewable energy throughout your home. There are a number of different types, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Picking the right one will require some research.
Solar Air Conditioners
This system uses the same principle as a solar water heater. The difference is that the hot water is used by the air conditioning system. If you live in a hot climate, a solar water heating system can be used to power a combination of both water, air conditioning, and other applications.
You may have seen these when out on your travels as wind farms and wind turbines floating offshore. They are becoming more and more popular with big providers. It is possible to install a small wind turbine in your backyard, providing you’ve got enough room. There are a few downsides, which has made them a less popular option than solar panels. They are not the prettiest of constructions to look at, and they make a lot of noise. A lot of space is also required to site them, and in some areas, they are forbidden thanks to local laws and zoning restrictions.
If you can live with the disadvantages, wind power can be a smart option. It’s more stable than solar power and can easily generate enough electricity for your home.
You’ll need to be living next to a source of flowing water to make use of this option. If you do, then diverting some of the water through a turbine will power your home. There are various ways to do it, but it does depend on the amount of water flowing and how the levels drop. This kind of energy production is not really for the amateur installer unless you’ve got some knowledge of engineering. There are a number of professional installers of this type of system, so it shouldn’t be a problem finding one.
One benefit that makes this system stand out from solar and wind power is that it will be a stable and continuous source of power. The input you get from such a system will always be the same.
If you’re an eco-conscious homeowner, you can now see there are a number of different ways to utilize renewable energy systems. As well as protecting the planets limited resources you’ll also find yourself making considerable savings. All across the world, homeowners just like you are switching to using renewable energy, and together you will be able to make a sizeable difference. Governments are also helping by providing subsidies and tax incentives. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live. Renewable energy is a good fit for everyone. It is also the only way forward if we want to protect our planet’s resources. Eventually, they are going to run out, and if we can stave this moment off for as long as possible, future generations will benefit.
Photo by Ian Tormo