Ten Ways to Save Energy and Money Using Renewables

The U.S. is facing the reality of a very expensive heating season, higher gasoline and natural gas prices and increasing awareness of our nation’s effect on global warming. So it is timely for us to offer some tips (and plenty of links) on how to save money and energy using renewable resources.

We welcome your own contributions to our starter list via our Reader Comments forum at the end of this article. 1) Heat Your Home with Clean Renewable Bio-Fuels If you are currently heating with oil, consider switching to heating with biodiesel (also referred to as bio-oil or bio-heat). With home heating oil prices expected to reach record levels during this heating season, biodiesel is likely to be competitive in price, cleaner burning and made from crops grown by American farmers. There are a number of heating oil suppliers that are offering their customers a blended product. Call you local supplier to see if they offer biodiesel for home heating or visit the National Biodiesl Board website to find a supplier near you.
National Biodiesel Board
Want to get away from oil altogether? Wood pellet stoves are fueled by pellets made from compressed chips and sawdust, and purchasing one of these super efficient stoves can also earn you a $2,000 tax credit thanks to legislation in the recently passed Energy Bill.
Pellet Fuels Institute New England Wood Pellets Pellet burning stoves
2) Get Yourself Into Solar Hot Water Want to make a hot change? Buy a solar water heater the next time your conventional water heater dies (or sooner) — and if you finance it when you remodel or upgrade your home, condominium, or cabin the energy cost savings far outweigh the amount in the monthly payments on your second mortgage used to pay for your new solar system!
Solahart SunEarth Inc. SolarGenix Heliodyne Thermal Conversion Technology
3) Light-up Your Home, Office or Big Box Retail Store Home: Install a solar path, security or walkway lights. Whether taking out the garbage, walking the dog or coming home late from work or a trip, it’s useful to have some solar-generated light at night — and show your neighbors a practical use of renewables.
Real Goods Solutions Catalog Brookstone
Office: The least expensive energy is the energy you don’t have to buy. Consider a solar day-lighting solution for your home or office — day-lighting in offices not only fits the occupation profile, but also improves the productivity of people working there.
Solar Tube Sun Pipe
If day-lighting is not the right solution, how about coupling solar directly with your store’s lighting system?
Nextek Power Systems
Big Box: Have a big box store or warehouse and want to see what’s possible? Check out what Wal-Mart is doing on the renewable energy front.
Wal-Mart Deploys Solar, Wind, Sustainable Design A ‘green’ spurt for US businesses?
4) Light-up Your Street, Neighborhood or Town Outdoor public lighting can often be less expensive if you use solar-powered lights and not only for driveways, but on roadways, piers, parking lots, signage, street and security lights — providing immediate savings for not having to run or bury electric wires, not to mention the ongoing electric bill. Properly designed outdoor solar lighting also provides the right amount light for the task without over lighting, so as not to get that “urban glow” — great for urban dwellers, rural consumers, and astronomy buffs.
Solar Street Lighting
5) Renewable Consumer Products To prove that clean, green renewable energy can be hip and fashionable too, we have compiled a list of ‘cool’ consumer products and gadgets that integrate renewable energy. A solar watch by Citizen or Junghaus, the Casio Scientific Solar Calculator, the new iPod charger by Solio, a battery or solar backpack charger by Reluminati, even solar-powered models for children — RE-powered products are popping up all over the place.
Solar Fashion Solarize Your i-Pod Solaro Solar-Powered Models Building and Learning Kit Solar Bags Solar Powered Wireless Driveway Monitor
Plus, more than 110 products are certified as manufactured using renewable energy.
Green-E products
6) Cool Your Building Clean and Green Buy a solar vent fan or thermal barrier paint for your attic — by lowering attic temperatures your air conditioning bills go down, plain and simple.
Solar Attic Fans Real Goods Thermal Barrier Paint
7) Purchase Renewable Energy to Power Your Home or Business So you like Renewable Energy and want to support it, but for now just can’t buy a product or add some power generating device to your home or business. The solution is simple. Buy Renewable Energy Credits (also referred to as Green Tags) for a slight premium on your regular monthly power bill and know that your source of energy is clean and green. Put your money where your heart is. No excuses, no renovations or gadgets, just a monthly tithe to ramp up the market so industry can reach economies-of-scale so more people can “walk the talk.”
Green Power Partnership Green-E
8) Clean Back-up Power Systems If you need reliable power in your home or business for a specific circuit or need be sure to buy a back-up power system that utilizes renewable energy. When the electric power goes out your basement sump pump, web router, refrigerator, etc. keep working — no matter what. If a squirrel eats a wire, falling tree limb snaps a feeder line, ice or wind bring down a distribution connector, or substation transformer just gives out — you’re protected!
GridPoint Xantrex Outback Power SMA
9) Think Globally – Act for Renewable Energy Locally Don’t just rubber stamp local bond issues without demanding that renewable energy be considered for powering (fueling) public spaces. Parks (lighting), public restrooms (fans and water heating) and schools (energy is the third highest cost of education after teachers’ salaries and their benefits) and other public facilities are great candidates for renewable energy power, heating and cooling systems.
LEED Guidelines for Energy Smart Schools Best Practices Manual for Energy Smart Schools
10) Educate Yourself and Others About Renewable Energy If you are new to renewable energy, one of the best ways to learn about it is by going to see a working RE system. There are an increasing number of events that anyone can attend to learn about the technology and more.
RE Events Calendar
If you own or have access to a renewable energy system, organize an event and invite your neighbors, business colleagues, friends and local officials — let them see your solar home or business installations or even the solar gadgets you have. Most people still don’t know how well these technologies work — and seeing is believing. Show off your renewable energy system on the National Solar Home Tour (every October).
Solar Home Tour Information
Now it’s your turn. What’s your best idea to save money and energy with renewable resources. Please use the Reader Comments section below to share your thoughts and ideas with other readers. Acknowledgment: RenewableEnergyAccess.com regular columnist Scott Sklar contributed to this report Disclaimer: REA does not endorse any of the products mentioned in this article. They are provided as a starting point only.
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