By: Morgan Bennette-Eaton
Although there still are some people out there that think it’s a hoax, for the most part global warming is a proven fact. With that being the case most people understand that changes in energy and transportation are going to have to be made in the near future. By the year 2050 one-third of the world’s energy will need to come from alternative sources like wind, solar, and hydropower. The people who came up with this statement are British Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell, two of the worlds biggest oil companies; so you know if even they are aware of the issue than it’s something you should consider.
Most people when thinking of alternative energy sources think of solar panels on top of skyscrapers, hydropower dams in rivers and giant wind turbines in the planes of Kansas, however did you know that there are significant alternative energy changes you can make around your house? Recently alternative energy products have made leaps and bounds and one of the areas for which they are beginning to make significant innovations are consumer based for the home.
Why Would I Make Changes at my Home?
There are many reasons you should make alternative energy changes to your home, some of those but not limited to are:
· Do your part to help curb climate change.
· Become energy independent
· Possible tax breaks depending on where you live
· Help cut down on pollutants in air and water that can affect your family and friends
· Help to spearhead change that is needed in this world.
Home Solar Options
Perhaps the best known alternative energy resource is solar energy. Why man took so long to harness the real power of the sun is a mystery. If you go outside and stand in the sun you can feel the energy and heat on your sking. In that 8 minutes those rays have traveled 93 million miles. The photons in sun rays move extremely fast and their motion can be trapped in your solar panels and harnessed as energy. While at the moment solar panels are still somewhat expensive when you figure in the fact that most can last 20-30 years and come with lifetime warranties the price over the life of use is beneficial.
Also think of how much you can benefit the environment. A 1.5 kilowatt PV system can keep more than 110,000 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere over 25 years. I will also prevent the need to burn 60,000 pounds of coal. With solar power you take things like urban smog, pollution, and acid rain out of the equation.
Home Wind Power
People have been using wind power for thousands of years. Persians used windmills to pump water and grind grain in 900 AD. Other nations like China, Egypt, and here in the United States have all realized the potential power of wind power. And so we have seen recently nations like Germany and France investing large amounts of government funding into developing the possibilities of wind power.
Recently powerful and practical home wind turbines have been developed for the consumer. While they vary and size and some can be mounted on roofs while other need to be in yards they all are almost completely silent and can generate quite a bit of energy. With a wind turbine of a capacity of 1.2 kilowatts you can generate 25-30% of an average homes energy while other more sophisticated turbines can provide anywhere from 50%-70% of a homes energy. Combined with solar panels, wind turbines could help you to become completely energy independent.
Hydropower is a type of alternative energy that doesn’t get talked about a lot. The problem with hydropower is that for most to use it for home applications you need to live next to flowing water. It has been said that these small hydropower solutions are the perfect compliment to solar panels for the home as they provide a small amount of energy. There are two types of hydropower instillations, waterwheels and water turbines. Water wheels are similar to those antique water wheels you see in old movies turning very slow. These smaller versions of water wheels turn slowly but with massive amounts of torque which can actually genrerate quite a bit of energy. Home water turbines on the other hand are different than the giant ones you see on dams. Water is collected in an intake pipe and as down in to the tubine in a pipe it’s own gravity pressure forces it through one or more nozzles. This action turns a small turbine that can produce energy and deposit it into a connected generator.
Hydropower at this moment is not the most practical of the alternative energy solutions for the home but it’s a great addition to wind or solar energy and can help you get those few extra watts to become fully energy independent.
Where Do I Start?
The first step to outfitting your home with alternative energy solutions is to decide which ones will give you the best return. If you live in Arizona you probably want to invest in solar, if you live in a place with no wind, wind turbines may not be a good decision. Once you have decided on what you plan on investing in and a budget start to research companies that specialize in outfitting homes with alternative energy solutions.
Here are a few links to companies that can outfit your home with alternative energy products and help you get off the grid: