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Aug 28

Renewable Energy at the Residential Level

When we use the term “renewable energy,” we typically visualize grand structures that supply power to the masses. However, we often forget the power of the individual. It’s easy to plug a new home into the grid without much thought of doing something good for the environment, or your wallet for that matter. And, it’s even easier to do what’s already been done before. But, given today’s technological advancements, taking individual responsibility for our energy consumption should receive some degree of priority. The saying “it’s the small things that count” translates across many real world scenarios, and doing what’s right for the environment isn’t exempt from that list.

So what can you do to make an impact? We all know about recycling and conserving power, but are there other simple and elegant solutions to sustaining our energy intake without guzzling excessive, toxic fossil fuels? And what about at the consumer level?

Luckily, there are several innovative set-it-and-forget-it type technologies consumers can employ to reduce their carbon footprint. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

 

Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems

Yes, geothermal heating and cooling systems can be installed on residential properties. However, residential geothermal heat pumps work differently than their industrial sized counterparts found in Iceland or America’s west. Residential geothermal heating and cooling systems work by taking advantage of stable ground temperatures. In the summer ground temperatures are cooler than outside air temperatures and in the winter ground temperatures are warmer than outside air temperatures. Taking advantage of this simple and natural occurrence produces profound benefits and it all works via a simple geothermal heat pump.

Although geothermal heating and cooling systems are often considered an upfront investment, government tax credits can help alleviate costs. If you’re ok with delayed gratification, the systems will eventually pay for themselves. Plus, geothermal heating and cooling systems can increase your home’s worth if you ever plan to sell.

 

Portable Solar Panels

Working in tandem with a battery, portable solar panels work when the sun goes down. Overall, they are underrated in their functionality, size and practicality. If you’re looking for something that produces a lot of juice, you can find portable systems about the size of a briefcase, but if you’re looking for something smaller, you can get that too. Some newer models of luggage, like backpacks, even come with a small grid of panels located on the back face.

Portable solar panels are great for those looking to take baby steps toward reducing their carbon footprint, but they probably won’t see much of a difference in their utility bill. Regardless, even if only 100,000 people across the entire US resort to portable solar panels as a power source, the reduction in consumed fossil fuels begins to add up.  So if you’re a frequent outdoor enthusiast who likes to stay connected, consider a portable solar panel as means to stay charged.

 

Personal Turbines

If you think about it, turbine-like structures are everywhere. Technically speaking bike wheels, although powered by muscle, can function as fantastic turbines. So much so that a couple smart entrepreneurs decided to take advantage of the wheel. Again. It’s called the Siva Cycle Atom and it converts power generated by the bicycles wheel into electricity. Bikers can use this electricity to power small devices throughout the day.

Furthermore, if you’re looking for a much grander energy supply, it’s becoming much easier to purchase turbines for the home. As long as you don’t mind an eye sore hanging out in your backyard, it’s becoming increasingly easier to get ahold of your own windmill. Also, unless the unit is connected to a generator or battery, extra energy gets injected back into the power grid. US citizens are typically credited for energy they supply to the grid.

More often than not it’s the cumulative effort of individuals that makes the biggest environmental impact. Are you participating?

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