Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Get Off the Grid: Alternative Energy Solutions for the Home

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.  

Home HydroPower

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:



  1. Solar energy is been seen as the future power source which will lighten up our new world.

    Off Grid Solar Systems

  2. Going off the grid is a great thing to do to conserve money, you can save a lot believe it or not.

    -Green Apple Energy USA

  3. Hey there! I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about alternative energy tax credits. I am glad to stop by your site and know more about alternative energy tax credits. Keep it up! This is a good read.
    Renewable Energy Credit is one of two main outputs or benefits from generation of new power from renewable sources. Renewable power generation creates actual power in the form of electricity, and environmental benefits to society from “green” power production – such as minimizing pollution and slowing the rate finite fuel resources are used. The actual power is sold into the local grid, and the societal benefits are sold in the form of Renewable Energy Credits or “RECs”, sold separately as a commodity into the marketplace. While RECs are not actually a measure of power, each REC represents one megawatt hour (MWh) of renewable-generated energy. For each REC purchased the customer is able to claim the equivalent MWh of energy reduction as on offset to their conventional energy use.
    Let’s assume a yearly production of 200,000,000 kWh of electricity from our biomass plant. Please reference the Biomass section for how this value was calculated. Using the 2010 PTC rate of $0.022 per kWh would result in a tax credit of $4,400,000.

  4. Hi there! great stuff here, I'm glad that I drop by your page and found this very interesting. Thanks for posting about renewable energy tax credits. Hoping to read something like this in the future! Keep it up!

    The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was originally part of the Revenue Act of 1962. In subsequent legislation the ITC was modified to include incentives for renewable energy property. Currently, taxpayers can choose to use the ITC in lieu of the PTC for eligible property. To be considered eligible, most renewable source property must be placed in service by December 31, 2013. However, solar and geothermal property can be eligible if placed in service by December 31, 2016.

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