A Beginner’s Guide To: Renewable Energy

August 15, 2014

Depending on your climate and how energy efficient your home is, you may be able to save 20% to 100% on your utility bills. Before you invest in technology, it’s a good idea to assess your home’s current level of efficiency. For example, is your home properly insulated? Are you using energy efficient appliances? (Tip: The type of appliances you use make a big difference in your energy bill). We encourage our clients to opt for appliances that meet ENERGY STAR requirements. Overall, it’s always a good idea to improve your home’s building envelope (the way your house separates its indoor climate from the outdoor climate). The poorer your buidng envelope, the harder your heating and cooling systems will need to work (in turn not saving you any money on utilities). 

However, if you’ve already established that 1. your home is functioning efficiently and comfortably and 2. you’ve opted to use energy efficient appliances, you may want to look into using renewable energy in your home. The term renewable energy comes from sources that will last indefinitely – basically solar, wind, and hydropower.

1. Solar Energy

The basics: A photovoltaic (PV) system generates electricity. An expert can look at your home to determine the best way to capture solar energy (whether it’s solar panels on the roof, on a pole, or on a fixed mount). 

How to know if it’s right for you: The sun shines on your house or yard, and you feel that you’ve already made some preliminary upgrades to make your home more energy efficient (see above).

Tip: In some areas, there are tax incentives and rebates that can help cover the cost of installing solar thermal and PV systems.

2. Wind Power

The basics:  Small wind turbines are electric generators that use the energy of the wind to produce clean, emissions-free power for individual homes, farms, and small businesses. To use this resource, you’ll need a tower to get the turbine away from the ground.

How to know if it’s right to you: You have lots of space and wind.

3. Hydropower

The basics: Hydropower is one of the most environmentally friendly and least expensive sources of energy. 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.

How to know if it’s right for you: You have a stream, creek or other source of flowing water on your property.

Using renewable energy sources is great for the environment, for maximizing comfort, and reducing your utility bills. However, it’s essential to consider your home’s performance as a whole system. Consulting with a professional and planning ahead helps to solve energy problems without creating more issues in the process. Start by making small eco-friendly changes, and then proceed to larger changes if you feel that it’s right for your home and your lifestyle.

If you haven’t already, conduct an energy assessment to find out where you can save the most. An energy assessment will tell you how efficient your home is at maintaining comfortable temperatures, and it will let you know if your home is cost efficient. If you’re interested in having your home assessed with an energy audit, please fill out a short contact form by clicking here. If you are interested in a free estimate or would like to know how Lensis Builders, Inc. can make your home even better, give us a call at 703-367-8999 or click here. If you’re looking for inspiration for your next project, visit our Pinterest page!

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