Most people are always looking for ways to make an extra buck and if not, ways to save an extra buck. One of the most common ways doing this is by reducing your power bill by making use of renewable energy sources. This also goes a long way towards conserving the planet’s resources and reducing greenhouse emissions. We take a look at the top ten ways you can power your home with renewable energy.
Roof-mounted solar panels
This is perhaps the most common renewable energy harnessing method available. It basically involves the purchase and installation of solar panels on your roof to capture the energy from the sun’s rays and convert this to electrical energy. This can then be stored in batteries or at times used directly via inverters. A newer technology involves the use of solar shingles where solar panels take over the space of your roof tiles and are installed on top of your roofing material. However, solar panels have their downsides in that they only work when the sun is up thus limiting their usage to only half a day. This may not be sufficient for extensive power users.
Wind turbines have gained much popularity recently with companies out there making them smaller and more efficient each day. Installing a wind turbine, however, requires several conditions such as an open space, mounting area and consistent wind above a certain speed. These seem to work better in rural areas that have fewer distractions. If your home meets these standards, however, there is no reason you should not invest in a wind turbine to provide the extra power and save you the power bill expenses. Most turbines are however a bit noisy and need to be installed in areas where the noise will not be an issue. Unlike solar panels, wind turbines will provide electricity at any time of day as long as the wind is blowing.
Well, this one happens to be straight out of a science fair. However, heating appliances such as ovens often consume a lot of power and making changes to one of them could result in substantial savings. Solar ovens are simple appliances that make use of the sun’s rays to heat food. The exact method used to trap the rays varies from manufacturer to manufacturer though it is quite easy to build yours from readily-available materials. The internet is full of do-it-yourself tips on this.
While this is probably not a solution for many, if your home is near a flowing water source, then you should consider this. It is definitely not something you will do yourself unless you are an experienced hydroelectric power professional. However, it basically involves identifying within the water flow the greatest vertical distance and channeling some of the water from the higher point via a pipe towards a turbine. The water rotates the turbine which in turn provides electricity. This, unlike solar and wind, is a continuous source of energy and will rarely fluctuate.
Solar water heating
While solar panels have been primarily used for electricity generation, they are also capable of direct water heating which could result in substantial savings as well. The panels, in this case, are installed in a manner that allows them to heat significantly large reserves of water which is then channeled to your showerheads or radiators. This is much cheaper means of water heating then the conventional electricity or gas. There are various types of solar water heaters out there each possessing its own pros and cons.
This is more of an extension of solar panels’ water heating capabilities. However, instead of the hot water being used purposely for functions such as showering, the water is used for air conditioning applications and can be later used for the other conventional uses. Heating and air conditioning are some of the large contributors to the power bill and making use of solar panels could bring this cost down significantly. However, you will probably require a professional to set up the system for you.
This is an innovation by Tesla that while not a means or source of renewable energy by itself allows users to store electricity for future use. This is best used together with renewable energy sources such as wind, water or hydro-power. However, even when used with the main grid, it can be programmed to charge itself when the electricity prices are low and thus spare some bucks on electrical expenses. By having the capability to store substantial amounts of power for future use, the power wall could supplement you renewable energy source by reducing and at times eliminating the fluctuations in power supply.
These come in different configurations but all have similar purposes, to provide renewable gas for your cooking and at times electricity generation needs. Biogas digesters simply make use of waste from farm animals which is then fermented as a semi-liquid. The fermentation process produces methane, which is then channeled to household cooking appliances for use as conventional cooking gas. However, this is only available to households with farm animals for the input of the materials. In some places, the gas has been used to power small-sized electricity generators designed to run on fuel.
This is another means of saving on the electricity bill by using alternative heating sources. It basically involves heating water using wood chips. This, while saving on electricity also reduces the user’s carbon footprint by up to 30%. An additional advantage is that it would provide a distinct financial advantage by providing the user access to RHI.
These are basically appliances that extract heat from the environment that can be used to heat water. However, it is to be noted that the appliances make use of electricity though at a much lower rate than conventional heating. Installing these also qualifies one for RHI though space availability considerations should be made prior to installation.