With the ever increasing demands placed on fossil fuels and the impact these have on the planet, homeowners are increasingly looking to more environmentally friendly ways of powering the home. As a result of this, there are a range of renewable energy solutions available within the domestic setting.
Solar Photovoltaic cells – These convert sunlight into electricity and are used to power small and medium size homes depending on the number of panels installed. These are best fitted on south facing elevations and although areas with prolonged sunshine are the moist effective there is benefit from natural daylight. On a larger scale CSP systems “Concentrating Solar Power” use a system of computer driven mirrors which adjust to the angle of the sun but as yet there is little application to the domestic market. Solar companies offer to rent your roof, install and maintain a set of solar panels and then agree a profit split from the surplus power produced.
Wind turbines – Harness the power of the wind to create electricity. These can be the tradition windmill style or combined with solar panels to provide a smaller more discreet alternative to either of these
Heat Pumps – Extract heat from a source and transfer it to a building. This may be a geothermal pump taking heat from the top layer of the earth’s crust which maintains a fairly stable temperature and during the winter is considerably warmer than the surface. Wells drilled deep into suitable ground conditions can be flooded with water which is then pumped to the surface at a higher temperature than would otherwise be available.
Mini hydroelectric – The technology now exists to use any supply of water whether from a small stream or brook to power mini hydro electric schemes. These are of huge benefit to rural communities in developing countries where the provision of a mains electric supply is out of the question.
Fuel for stoves and boilers – Sustainable wood pellets, chips and logs are used in stoves and boilers for heating hot water and providing warmth.
Solar water heating – In sunny climates solar water heating uses the sun’s rays to heat a series of pipes laid usually on a roof. Water running through narrow black piping is collected and joined into the domestic water supply. During summer months this can provide a huge saving in heating costs and even be connected up to a swimming pool or outdoor spa.
Biomass and waste to energy – Domestic refuse can be processed via small scale waste to energy plants designed for the domestic market. These process the waste material normally taken by the municipal refuse collectors and transform it into gas which is then turned into electricity. This waste material would otherwise go into landfill sites. The EU is committed to reducing landfill sites by the end of the decade and this solution is really a win win situation and easily described as ” Rubbish in- Power out”. Local communities, schools, hospitals and prisons are installing these in increasing numbers.
To conclude, there are many methods of powering or heating the home using renewable energy so there really is no excuse not to install one of the above products. It may even be the case that enough energy is produced via these sources that enable the homeowner to sell the remainder back to the power companies therefore offsetting the cost of purchase or installation.