The cost of oil fell in the second half of 2014 by almost a half, but home energy bills have remained stubbornly high. Most home owners have found that although they thought that the oil price drop would mean a big reduction in the energy bills, the reality has been only a disappointingly small proportion of their electricity and gas bill has been cut.
If, like many people, you have been doing nothing for the last year or more, in the hope that your energy supplier is going to pass on more than a small part their savings, we have news for you. Energy prices are not now expected to fall any further, and in many areas are rising again. We suggest that if you continue to wait for more price reductions, you will be sorely disappointed. Whatever reductions your energy supplier has give you, it is very unlikely that they will drop their energy rates any further now,
Now is the time to take action to use the power of Renewable Energy to get those energy bill reductions, via the route once seen as the province only of leather sandal wearing good-lifers, and now seen as just common sense.
Yes. I am talking of mainstream renewable energy, both high-tech, and also exceedingly basic/ low technology. In writing this article we have taken the view that, if an idea works to save energy, it is worth airing here. if all you want to read about and do requires high-tech gizmos, this isn’t for you, but everyone else should, we think, read-on!
1. Solar Panels
Now, predictable though this may be, we have started here with our first suggestion of installing solar panel energy, and we make no excuses for that. There is a substantial initial investment to make, but the cost of solar panels has dropped massively over the last 5 years and the fall has been continuing.
That means that you will be surprised how cheap they are now, if you ever looked into adding solar panels to your roof on an occasion in the past. In many countries governments have been steadily, and sometimes not so steadily and with big drops, but each to the solar panel manufacturers have managed to up their game by reducing their manufacturing costs.
In particular it has been the combination of economy of scale and new cheaper photo-voltaic cell fabrication methods that have enabled these remarkable cost reductions. The enhanced “green electricity” tariffs paid for exported energy have been reduced by governments, but still the investment remains attractive for many home owners. In fact returns on investment in solar roof panels has been in the range of 5 to 10 percent for many years now.
We suggest that you look up your local solar panel installation company online, or in a local directory and ask for a quote. For those that are reaching retirement and plan to stay in their property for a long period may well find that this investment is low-risk when compared with almost any other.
Besides, those that install solar panels can always put their feet up in a warm home with the satisfaction that their investment has made them less dependent on the consumption of fossil fuel. Many people enjoy the thought that the planet will be just a little bit less damaged by the effects of rising temperatures, due to their investment in solar energy.
2. Wood Burning Stoves and Open Fireplaces
Now having discussed the high-tech end of the available renewable energy options for home owners, lets go really low-tech and extol the virtues of wood stoves and good-old fireplaces, with wood-log open-fires!
If you live in a big city, especially where there are restrictions on wood-burning due to air-pollution concerns an open fire will not be a viable solution and buying-in the wood may also be too expensive in inner-urban areas. However, for those that live in the countryside, and consume properly managed wood resources, their can be great benefits in reduced cost (where the wood is abundantly available and inexpensive to buy, such as in areas of forest or low-population temperate climates).
You can of course, go quite high-tech these days, as well, by choosing sophisticated self-feeding boilers which can burn wood in all shapes and sizes from chippings, to compressed wood-fuel pellets, and even wood blocks. It all depends on personal preference, and the cost of these fuels in your locality.
Again, those that read this and have a mind to consider wood as their renewable energy source for reducing their home energy bills, and for whom a local supply of responsibly managed woodland fuel is available can benefit. This will only become clear when they do some local research and talk to local wood-fuel suppliers, to find out what is available. Many people can do well by spending the effort to make local inquiries, and then in implementing an investment strategy in wood-derived renewable home energy.
3. Simply Hanging Your Clothes Out to Dry!
Some of the best energy saving ideas are evergreen, and were habitual to previous generations, but in the recent abundance of relatively cheap energy have rather been overlooked by many people. The best example of this is the practice of hanging clothes out to dry.
This requires little or no investment and yet, in most climates will save large sum of money otherwise used to dry clothes in drying machines. All that is needed is a small yard/ balcony, or garden, in which to leave the sheets and garments to air, and a little forethought on the suitability of the weather for clothes drying, each wash-day.
4. Solar Water Heaters
Solar water heaters come next in our list of energy solutions to harness the power of renewable energy in the average home. It is easy to confuse these with solar panels, which obviously are often used to heat water by electric hot-water heating in solar (photo-voltaic cells powered homes). They consist of matt painted black tubes, placed in a glazed and insulated box which is exposed to full sunlight. Hot water is pumped from the tubes into the domestic hot water tank whenever the water in the solar water heating panel is warmer than the water in the hot-water tank or cistern.
The heat gain of solar water heaters in much better in hot-climates than further north or south, and their installation in warm-to-hot countries is now so cost-effective, with short pay-back periods, that they are frequently routinely installed in almost all of the homes.
Further away from the equator, solar water heating systems can still provide renewable energy at a very cost effective price. in fact, anyone thinking of installing solar-panels should also look at the alternative cost-benefit of solar water heating.
5. Passive Ventilation and the Use of Thermal Chimneys
Now let’s move on. The previous energy cost saving idea, was all about the idea of collecting the sun’s power and using it. Now we will turn that idea on its head. Why not save on energy use by working with nature in a way that will provide earth-friendly cooling?
That’s all very good, I hear you say. I bet you are thinking that such an idea is a fantasy, and a “theory”. “How is that done”, you say? I say, it is easily done by achieving effective airflow and thermal chimneys, and that’s all about good architecture and the “Power” of Renewable Energy.
In fact it was practiced by the ancients, and the method can be seen in use in many old houses in the hottest countries of the world where it was once a necessity, before modern electric air-cooling equipment was invented.
It is as simple as devising buildings around ventilation which makes use of the fact that hot air rises. Chimneys can easily be devised that will draw air through a building, and where the air is drawn through basements and over stone, cool concrete and/ or water, before entering a habitable area a temperature moderating “flywheel” effect can be created. In these systems natural overnight cooling, is drawn out during the hot daytime, reducing interior temperature rises down to very pleasant levels.
There may be a need for investment when properties are built but from then on these systems just keep paying back in energy savings, with negligible maintenance or running costs.
For those planning a new home to be built to their own specifications this is an “renewable energy” option very worthy of consideration for all but the coolest and windiest climates.
6. Wind Power
Which brings us to our next idea about harnessing the power of renewable energy in the average home. That is to use wind power, from a wind-turbine of some sort.
This is not our most favoured option for reducing energy costs, because wind turbines are not universally liked, and most people would wish to be seen as good neighbours, and not install a windmill which can look unsightly and possibly also be noisy, and injure bird-life should the blades hit them as they fly.
Wind power is good for augmenting solar for the availability of energy during strong winds when there may be heavy clouds, and at night. However, as most people live in urban surroundings which will not suit wind-power, it is not a viable option for most people. For this reason we will move on to our final renewable energy home, idea which uses the “Power” of Renewable Energy.
7. Painting Buildings White for Passive Heat Gain Reduction
This is the simplest yet! It is not even strictly renewable energy, although the effect is constantly renewable and “self renewing. It is often described as passive energy saving, and it is simply painting roofs and walls white or, in another light colour.
Why is it that so many home-owners in hot climates paint their houses white on the outside? It is because the surface becomes much more reflective and a really useful percentage of the sun’s energy simply bounces off the surface (especially on roofs). The homeowners may not even realize the magnitude of the cooling effect, as the practice is traditional and has always been applied to all homes, in many places.
We have provided 7 great ideas for harnessing the power of renewable energy in the average home, any one of which can have a large benefit in reduced energy costs. Many people love these ideas for the way in which they can reduce fossil fuel energy use, which is blamed for the increasing violence of our weather, and generally rising planetary temperature.
None will be suitable for every home, but we recommend that the well-informed home-owner would be well advised to make further enquiries from local experts in each renewable energy specialism. The purpose of making such contact, is to see what benefits in potential renewable energy use, leading to cost reductions (and also often improvements in comfort within the home), are available in your location.
Even if an individual is not motivated by the idea of “going green” this is still well-worth the time and effort required to do it, due to the cost reductions. It is certainly much more likely that costs can be saved this way, than just waiting for the big energy supply companies to reduce their prices to a fair level.
If this article has sparked an interest in adopting a renewable energy project to improve the energy efficiency of your home visit http://renewable-energy-news.com .
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