Energy gathered from naturally-replenished sources like waves, tides, rain, wind and sunlight has become an important factor in the modern world. While many companies are looking for new ways of implementing green energy to power their businesses, renewable technology has found its way into our homes as well. While for most homeowners the main reason remains the economic benefit of reduced monthly energy bills, other, not less important benefits are slowly but surely becoming recognized as well.
The cost of energy today and tomorrow
Although electricity prices in the U.S. have held steady for more than two decades, mainly due to industrial deregulation and the abundance of natural gas, financial and economic forecasters today agree that higher electricity price for consumers is the only viable solution. On the other side of the world, The Grattan Institute says that the latest high wholesale electricity prices are the “new normal” that Australian politicians need to be honest about with voters. Adding to that the federal and state governments’ decision to keep aging legacy assets – old coal-fired plants – in working condition is far from a long-term solution for a problem that only a strong bipartisan energy and climate change policy can solve.
Before you go green
Before you decide to commit to solar panels, you need to make sure your home’s electrical installations are in order. Keep in mind that many countries enforce stringent regulations concerning DIY electrical work. In order to avoid legal problems, and potential insurance revocations, you should hire an expert electrician to inspect, update or remodel your electrical system for higher energy efficiency, recommend LED lighting options, as well as suggest home automation solutions that save power on their own.
Solar panels and shingles
Solar photovoltaic panels can be placed either on your roof or on a specially designed array in the backyard. Another solution for going solar is to use solar shingles, which are becoming more and more popular among homeowners who want to preserve the traditional home design or period roof features such as gables, mansards, and towers. These photovoltaic roof tiles are installed in the same way as regular ones. The main disadvantage of solar systems is that they are active only when the sun’s up, so it pays off to invest in a solar battery, as well.
Although much less common in residential areas than solar panels, wind-generated energy is actually a much more stable source than solar energy. With an appropriately sized turbine, an average home can cover all the household’s energy needs. The disadvantages of wind turbines are their high-profile and the noise they make which often limit their use to remote farmsteads and off-grid residential areas. One way or another, before committing to this energy source, make sure you check local regulations on the matter.
The most ‘earthbound’ source of clean, renewable energy, geothermal heating systems can reduce your home’s carbon footprint by eliminating the need for electricity used for heating or cooling your home. The typical home system uses a geothermal heat pump (GHP) that needs 25 to 50% less energy than regular HVAC systems. The equipment included produces virtually no noise and takes much less space, making it suitable for almost any home design. Make sure you check your property’s geological and hydrological characteristics before committing to this source.
Once reserved only for wealthy, tech-savvy innovators and visionaries, renewable energy has always been all around us, now becoming more commons in the suburbs as well. By using renewable energy to power your home you can reduce or even eliminate your utility bills, while government incentives for renewable technology can make the investment even more cost effective.
About the author: Mike Johnston is a home improvement blogger and DIY enthusiast from Sydney. He is a regular writer at Smooth Decorator and contributor on several interior design, lifestyle, real estate and eco blogs. Mike’s goal is to create and share meaningful content that helps and inspires people.