With rising energy costs and growing concern about climate change, more homeowners are looking to power their homes using renewable energy sources. This allows you to reduce your environmental impact and gain energy independence. There are several renewable energy options to consider when trying to sustainably power your home.
Solar power is one of the most popular renewable energy choices for homes. There are two main types of solar power systems:
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Panels
- Solar PV panels convert sunlight directly into electricity. The PV cells are made of semiconductor materials like silicon.
- Panels are mounted on your roof and connected to an inverter that converts the DC power to usable AC power.
- Excess power is fed back into the grid. Many utilities offer net metering programs to provide bill credits.
Solar Hot Water Heating
- Solar thermal collectors heat fluid that is circulated through pipes to a storage tank.
- The hot water can be used for domestic needs or to heat your home.
- Reduces your water heating bills.
Benefits of solar power:
- Provides clean, renewable electricity from the sun.
- Can zero out your utility bills or make your home energy positive.
- Low maintenance. Panels can last 25-30 years.
- Eligible for tax credits and incentives.
Small wind turbines can also be installed to harness wind energy. Consider if you live in a windy area.
- Wind turns the turbine blades, which spin a generator to make electricity.
- Can be tied to the grid or used to charge batteries.
- Some local permitting restrictions may apply.
- Best suited for rural areas. Turbines make noise and need adequate wind resources.
Geothermal Heating & Cooling
Geothermal uses the stable temperatures just below the earth’s surface for heating and cooling:
- A ground source heat pump circulates fluid through pipes buried underground.
- The fluid absorbs heat from the ground to heat your home in winter.
- The process is reversed in summer to provide cooling.
- Can reduce heating/cooling costs up to 70% compared to conventional systems.
Burning organic matter can provide heat and hot water:
- Wood pellet stoves and boilers burn compressed wood pellets to heat your home.
- Pellet fuel is renewable and produces low emissions.
- Requires proper venting and maintenance.
- Only suitable for heating, not power generation.
Hydroelectric systems utilize the energy of flowing water:
- Systems redirect a flowing river or stream to spin a turbine and generator.
- Works best with an elevated water source like a waterfall.
- Permits are needed to build dams or divert waterways.
- Best suited for off-grid rural homes near streams.
With the right renewable energy system, you can dramatically reduce your home’s carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels. Solar panels and geothermal heat pumps are two excellent options for most suburban homes. Consider your needs, budget and site conditions when deciding which sustainble power solutions are best for your home. Working with a qualified installer will ensure your system meets your needs.