Coal, oil and gas = fossil fuels = nonrenewable = will one day not exist.
Solar, wind, plant, hydrogen, heat, ocean and flowing water = renewable energy = constantly replenished by the earth’s atmosphere.
What does this mean for you? Let’s break it down.
Basically, solar powered means powered by sunlight. Scientists have found ways to convert sunlight into electricity to create Solar Photovoltaic Technology, explains the U.S. Department of Energy.
You may have noticed that solar panels are popping up in all sorts of locations — homes, businesses and even lined up in large fields. Ikea has even created a tent for refugees with solar panels. This is a way to create renewable energy and bring society one step closer to saying goodbye to the need for non-renewable materials.
There are several benefits to installing solar panels in your home that include federal tax credits and local and utility incentives. Solarestimate.com can calculate the actual cost and benefit of installing solar paneling your home.
It doesn’t have to always be sunny to enjoy the benefits of solar power because most systems are tied to your home’s power grid ensuring your home always has power. Typically installed on a home’s roof, the panels are mounted at an angle facing the south or they can be installed to track the sun’s movement.
The cost of adding solar paneling to a home has decreased by approximately 70% over the last three years and the benefits and incentives are increasing. Financing programs make solar energy more accessible than ever.
Do you think those big windmill farms you see across the United States are for decoration? No. You probably know the turbines catch energy from the wind and convert it to electricity.
What you might not know is that you can turn to small wind turbines as another renewable energy source for your home. If you live on one acre of land, you can reduce your energy bill by 50%-90% with a wind energy system. They are also used on farms to pump water.
Energy converted from plants is called biomass energy or bioenergy. You have probably used bioenergy unconsciously by burning wood in your fireplace or in cooking a meal.
Other forms of bioenergy are found in food crops, grassy and woody plants, oil-rich algae and even fumes from landfills create natural gas that can be used as biomass energy, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Biomass can even be converted into liquid fuel for transportation.
Geothermal energy — heat from the earth’s surface — can be used to produce electricity by utility companies for the homes they service. Or, it can be harnessed by homeowners for heating and cooling from the heat directly from the ground below them.
Three more renewable energy sources include:
- Hydrogen: Reforming hydrogen by separating it from its hydrocarbons (organic compounds formed with hydrogen), can provide heat, generate electricity and power vehicles and, coupled with electricity, it can move energy from one source to another.
- Flowing water: Hydropower (hydroelectric power) creates electricity if you have access to flowing water. The U.S. Department of Energy states that you now have the opportunity to buy clean electricity from hydropower plants.
- Oceans: With ocean energy, heat from the sun, the gravitational pull from the moon and wind can generate thermal and mechanical energy from the ocean.
In Your Home
Ways to save energy in your home today include:
- get a heating and a/c tune-up, change filters.
- Install LED light bulbs.
- Install ENERGY STAR* thermostat and appliances.
- Reduce temperature of water heater.
- Let dishes air-dry.
- Run smaller loads of laundry and don’t over-dry clothes.
- Cook several meals at once and keep lids on pots.
- Use a solar pool cover.
- Install low-flow faucets and shower heads.
- Turn off tap when brushing your teeth.
How do you integrate renewable energy? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Cover photo from Flickr user bobistraveling.