With mounting energy costs due to environmental factors, and increased demand stemming from the widespread use of power-hungry machines and dwindling fossil fuel resources, many people find themselves considering the possibilities of self-sufficient homes that could nullify these issues. But how? Many wonder if it is even possible for a home to generate enough power to reasonably sustain itself in this era of high energy demand.
To answer this question, one must look at current technologies and their costs. Right now, the most prevalent energy source used for self-sustaining homes is solar energy, but many question its efficiency. While it is true that not long ago solar energy was not efficient enough to power a home well enough to meet average usage demands in a cost-effective manner, that issue has been resolved.
Solar power technologies have advanced to a level of efficiency and cost-effectiveness that often exceeds its fossil fuel counterparts. The technology has become so advanced that solar energy can be used as a replacement for gas as well because solar technology is now effective enough to power electric home water and air heating systems.
While there are many positive environmental factors and potential savings from using solar energy, people often question whether the initial cost and long-term maintenance expenses make owning a solar-powered home financially unachievable. But with tax breaks, panel leases and energy returns, powering a home with solar panels is becoming more affordable.
Governments in developed countries are offering massive tax incentives to alleviate the initial cost of owning home solar panel systems. New York State, for example, has a tax credit system that allows solar energy users to receive tax credits for up to 25 percent of the initial cost. The solar panel leasing market allows homeowners with less cash to become energy independent. By signing up for long-term leases, people without the initial startup cash, which can be over $10,000, can get a solar energy system installed sooner rather than later.
Produce Energy, Earn Money
Many people using solar discover that they generate energy well in excess of what they use every month. To advance the benefits of using solar energy for self-sustaining homes, energy companies pay solar homeowners to absorb excess energy back into the power grid, putting money back in homeowners’ pockets.
In order to be fully sustainable, a home must not only generate its own energy, but have its own sustainable source of water as well. Wells are a widely used source of water for self-sustaining homes (about 15 percent of Americans use them today), but not all wells are built alike: with the average American family using up to 300 gallons of water per day, some wells may not be able to replenish themselves fast enough to keep up with this massive demand. There are also safety concerns about well water due to toxins that exist underground. Rainwater harvesting, however, is a technique that provides a vast supply of clean water that requires relatively minimal treatment. As its name suggests, it involves harvesting rainwater in silos for day-to-day use; rainwater harvesting systems are also much less expensive to install and maintain than wells.
Windmills and watermills are other clean technologies often considered when becoming energy independent, but they are much less efficient than solar, and they also require unique environments to implement.
This article was provided by Mike Gordon, energy efficient college graduate and organic gardener-in-the-making. If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, Mike suggests reroofing your home to trap in heat in the fall and winter months. To do this, he suggests the services of Texas Roofing, found at http://www.texanroofinginc.com/roofing-katy.