Renewable energy is derived from natural processes that are replenished constantly. In its various forms, it derives directly from the sun, or from heat generated deep within the earth. Included in the definition is electricity and heat generated from solar, wind, ocean, hydropower, biomass, geothermal resources, and biofuels and hydrogen derived from renewable resources. Based on REN21’s 2014 report, renewables contributed 19 percent to our global energy consumption and 22 percent to our electricity generation in 2012 and 2013, respectively. When it comes to saving energy at home, there are many low-cost and even no-cost options to keep your energy bill low.
If you’ve made your home as energy-efficient as possible and are looking for new opportunities to reduce your energy consumption, it may be a good time to go solar. With advancements in technology and the expansion of the solar industry, prices for solar panels have fallen dramatically. Innovative new solar financing models – including options to lease solar panels are also increasingly viable options.
Not in a home that can support a rooftop solar system? It may be worth considering a community shared solar energy project. In this setup, community members band together to purchase a collective solar energy system. Each community owner gets a share of the power generated by the solar installation, a credit on their utility bill or other financial benefit.
If you live on at least one acre of land with strong wind resources, wind turbines can be an incredibly efficient way to produce electricity for your home. Small wind systems can reduce your energy-costs by as much as 90 percent, but they do require careful planning. Estimating your wind resource and checking your local permitting and zoning requirements are key factors to consider in order to pursue this option. As with solar panels, the prices of small wind energy systems are coming down and we’re supporting initiatives to bring down the cost even further.
If you have a stream, creek or other source of flowing water on your property, you might consider installing a small hydropower system. Generally, a 10-kilowatt microhydropower system can provide enough power for a large home, small resort or a small farm. To incorporate hydropower at home you’ll need to determine the amount of power that you can obtain from the flowing water on your property. You’ll also need to factor in permits and water rights before moving forward with the installation.
If you’re ready to make the commitment to a renewable energy system, you may qualify for rebates, tax credits or other incentives.