Alternative Energy in the Home
Rising energy costs have forced homeowners to look for more economical solutions to their energy needs. Part of this equation is the use of more energy-efficient appliances around the home. Energy-efficient heating units, cooling units and light fixtures are all excellent examples of efficient appliance use. However, some homeowners want to take their energy independence a step further.
This desire has led to a growth in demand for home-based alternative energy solutions. These are small-scale alternative energy systems that are designed to work with the unique demands and regulations associated with home use. Since they are designed to meet the needs of homeowners, this scaled alternative energy technology can be a great investment.
What is Alternative Energy?
The term "alternative energy" refers specifically to energy sources that are not fossil fuels. Commonly-used fossil fuels to generate electricity are coal and natural gas. Alternatives to fossil fuel-based energy can be anything from solar power to nuclear power.
There are many solar, geothermal and solar alternative energy options available to homeowners. These options range from complete home energy systems to a single appliance operating off of alternative energy. The extent to which you want to take alternative energy in your home is entirely up to you.
The Benefits of Alternative Energy
The benefits of using alternative energy are largely self-evident. The ability to take control of one's own energy independence is a major factor in this decision for many homeowners. After all, taking control of your energy source protects you from having to deal with market-based sways in energy costs. With a home-based alternative energy setup, you are in control of your own electricity production.
The impact of using alternative energy is not just a financial one. Alternative energy options like solar and wind power play an important role in mitigating the effects of global climate change. This can have a long-standing impact on the health of future generations. Of course, this outcome requires that these technologies become widely adopted.
Homeowners also enjoy some unique benefits that come with being more energy independent. There are many government programs on the federal and local level which provide financial incentives for alternative energy use in the home. These incentives can be anything from tax rebates to actual construction funds.
Alternative Energy Capture
Many different systems exist that can help you to harness the energy around your home in a usable way. The most common ways people capture energy for their home is through the use of solar panels and small-scale wind turbines.
Home Solar Panels
Every day, the sun pours energy down on the Earth at an incomprehensible rate. This energy is largely going unused by the currently-used energy paradigm. Thankfully, there are a number of different options available to homeowners who are interested in using solar panels at home.
The majority of these systems are developed and sold as "package" arrays. These arrays are designed specifically for different houses with different shapes and different power requirements. You aren't required to purchase solar packages that cover your whole home. The option to just use solar for a portion of your home's energy needs also exists.
Home Wind Turbines
Wind turbines can also be scaled down to meet the needs of homeowners. Vertical axis turbines are very popular with homeowners, though horizontal axis turbines are also commonly used. The regulations surrounding the installation of turbines can often be more restrictive than those surrounding solar panels. They are a very effective way to generate electricity for your home as long as you consult your local zoning board to learn about turbine regulations.
Alternative Energy Appliances
There are many home appliances that utilize alternative energy without having to upgrade your whole home. Solar water heaters and geothermal heating units are two great examples of this.
Solar Water Heaters
Solar water heaters take advantage of the passive energy of the sun to heat your water. Since they are not heated by electricity or gas, using solar water heaters can save quite a lot of energy. Water is run through pipes near solar catches on your roof and in your walls where it is warmed by the sun. You may be surprised at just how hot simple sunlight can make the water in your water heater.
Geothermal Heating Units
Geothermal heating units take advantage of the constant underground temperatures that surround you. At roughly six feet under the Earth's surface, the temperature remains fairly constant throughout the year. By using fluid-filled pipes to transfer underground heat to your home, you can save a lot of energy.
Alternative Energy is the Future
The truth is that fossil fuels are indeed a finite resource. Eventually, "alternative energy" will just be the only way for anyone to get energy. It's smart to shift toward these fossil-free energy sources on your own terms.