How to Turn Your Garbage into Renewable Energy at Home

How to Turn Your Garbage into Renewable Energy at Home

How to Turn Your Garbage into Renewable Energy at Home

Turning your garbage into renewable energy at home is a great way to reduce waste and lower your carbon footprint. With some simple techniques and technologies, you can harness the energy potential in your everyday trash.

Why Turn Garbage into Energy?

There are several benefits to converting your garbage into energy at home:

  • Reduce waste sent to landfills – Diverting recyclables and organic waste from landfills decreases methane emissions. Landfills are the third largest source of methane in the US.

  • Lower your energy bills – Using waste-to-energy techniques can help power things like lights and appliances, lowering your reliance on the electric grid.

  • Closed-loop system – Waste gets cycled back into usable energy instead of sitting in a landfill. This closed-loop system reduces your environmental impact.

  • Generate renewable energy – Trash contains embodied energy that can be harnessed. This energy comes from renewable sources like food scraps, paper, and yard trimmings.

  • Save money – Reducing energy bills and garbage collection fees by diverting waste can save money. Plus, many waste-to-energy projects qualify for rebates and incentives.

Waste-to-Energy Techniques and Technologies

There are several DIY ways to convert waste into renewable energy at home:


Composting food scraps and yard waste produces methane as it decomposes. Compost’s methane can be captured and used as biogas to power generators or heating systems.

  • Use a closed vessel composting system to harvest biogas for energy. These systems provide more methane than open piles.

  • Flare or burn captured methane to generate heat and energy. Methane is over 20 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic digestion uses microbes to break down organic matter without oxygen. The biogas released can be over 50% methane and used as renewable energy.

  • Small-scale anaerobic digesters are available for home use. They produce a steady supply of methane from food waste.

  • The biogas can be burned directly for heating and cooking or used to power a generator.

Waste Vegetable Oil as Biofuel

Used cooking oil can be filtered and processed into biodiesel to power vehicles and generators.

  • Recycle cooking oil from fryers or saute pans into biofuel. 2 gallons of waste oil makes 1 gallon of biodiesel.

  • Convert diesel engines to run on straight vegetable oil or biodiesel for renewable power generation.


Pyrolysis uses heat in the absence of oxygen to break down plastics and other waste into oil, gas, and char.

  • Build a pyrolysis unit to decompose plastic and rubber waste. The output pyrolysis oil can be used as liquid fuel.

  • The gas can also be collected and burned for energy production.

Solar Using Recyclables

Solar air heaters and cookers can be made from recyclables like cans, bottles, and cardboard.

  • Transform materials like aluminum cans into solar cookers to harness the sun’s energy for cooking.

  • Make solar air collectors out of old windows, cans, cardboard, and scrap wood to heat air and water.

Getting Started with Waste-to-Energy at Home

Interested in tapping into your garbage’s energy potential? Here are some tips:

  • Start by assessing your waste – see what materials have the most energy value to focus your efforts. An audit can identify top sources like food scraps, paper, plastics, and yard debris.

  • Research local regulations – building codes, emissions limits, and permitting requirements vary. Know the rules before investing in systems.

  • Start small – basic projects like a home compost pile or DIY solar cooker are low cost ways to demonstrate feasibility before scaling up.

  • Evaluate costs – calculate expenses like system purchase/construction, maintenance, and operational costs. Compare to expected energy savings.

  • Look into incentives – many local utilities and municipalities provide rebates or waste conversion grants and assistance.

With some clever repurposing, your waste can become an inexpensive source of renewable energy. Follow proper safety practices and do your homework to successfully turn trash into power at home.