Renewable Energy - Practical Home Options
By: Matthew Hick
As a homeowner, you may be using renewable energy sources. Let’s look at a few of these important, powerful sources.
If you use solar powered lights to brighten your walkway, a solar cover on your swimming pool or hang your clothes out to dry, you are already making use of the sun’s renewable energy. There are many other renewable energy home options you can take advantage of, and by doing so, help preserve our environment.
The most practical of renewable energy options for the home consist of space heating and domestic hot water. This is over 50% of a household’s energy usage. In using renewable energy we can experience cost saving benefits.
Perhaps the best way to take advantage of renewable energy home options is when designing a new house. A southern wall taking advantage of an appropriate amount of windows can take full use of the low sun in the winter. Adding a roof overhang over these windows allow the higher summer sun to be blocked. Also, on a cool day you can open your windows to let a breeze cool off the house and make use of wind energy. You have achieved adding heat in the winter and coolness in the summer, thereby lowering your heating and cooling costs naturally. This is called passive solar heating since it is integrated with no extra costs. You can also do day lighting by taking full advantage of the sunlight during the day to take care of your daytime lighting needs.
Wood stoves can also be advantageous, if using only dead wood, diseased wood or small pellets made from wood chips, crop waste and other organic material for burning. This is a renewable source of heat through the use of space heating. Modern wood burning stoves are highly efficient, making it a more practical option.
A homeowner can also utilize active solar heating. A solar water heater can use renewable solar energy to heat water for a house. This would use solar collector panels placed on a roof. Water runs through pipes under these panels and is heated by the sun. The water travels to a water tank in your home for your use. Electricity can also be produced for a home using the photovoltaic technology. This runs on the same idea as a solar calculator. Solar electricity is ideal for rural homes where it would be difficult to run an electric line to.
Geothermal heat pumps use the heat from the Earth to move heat from one area to another. This system uses a series of underground pipes to move a heat exchange fluid. The heat pump moves this fluid, heated from the earth and transfers it to buildings for use. Initial installation costs are much the same as traditional heating systems, but operational costs are lower.
If you live in a windy part of the country and have quite a bit of land, wind can power a wind turbine to produce electricity for your household. But your location must be ideal to catch wind and you must be able to capture a certain amount for this to work.
These are some home options for renewable energy sources. By trying to utilize some of them we are preparing for our future by using clean energy that does not affect air quality or harm the environment.
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