What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy isn’t just solar panels and wind turbines. The term renewable energy covers any method of generating electricity or heat which is replenished by natural means. Renewable or sustainable energy produces no pollution and is often free apart from initial setup costs.
What are the benefits of using it to power my home?
Having part of your home’s power come from sustainable sources has other benefits apart from just environmental. By producing your own power, you are saving money on your fuel bills. Eventually your new equipment will pay for itself.
By switching to renewables you reduce your dependency on non-renewable sources by making use of secure local sources. As long as the sun keeps shining and the wind keeps blowing, you will always have access to some sort of power in your home.
If you don’t use all the energy you generate it can be sold to energy companies and fed into the national grid. This helps the technology to pay for itself more quickly.
Which applications are suitable for the home?
There are four main methods which are currently suitable for domestic use:
Taking sunlight and turning it into electricity via the use of solar cells, solar panels can be fitted to your roof.
Working in dim sunlight, they are one of the cheapest available options which offer the best returns, even if you don’t live in the sunniest place.
More suited to coastal locations where average wind speed is higher, a wind turbine can be significantly more expensive than other sustainable options.
Smaller wind turbine rigs can be set up solely to heat hot water.
Wind turbines need to be set up on a mast to get the most benefit. This can further raise the overall cost.
Using the heat generated deep inside the Earth, a heat pump can be used to run underfloor or central heating. Heat pumps cannot heat water to a temperature suitable for washing or bathing. So the best application is to pre-heat the water, then use a traditional method to push it to the correct temperature.
Heat pumps are not suitable for every home, they are best for home which are off the gas grid.
Generating heat by burning materials which can be regrown, such as wood, biomass is a very efficient method of heating.
Already used for centuries, wood burners are relatively cheap.
However, biomass heat generation methods do produce pollution, so aren’t as environmentally friendly as the other methods on this list.
Renewable energy generation methods have come a long way in recent years. They are now a valid alternative to powering your home entirely using conventional methods. Government grants are also available to make switching to renewable even cheaper!