Supercharge your home with renewable energy

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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Like all things in life, electricity costs are rising. That wouldn’t pose a problem if we didn’t need it. Problem is – we do! Luckily, there is a solution to every problem, and when it comes to energy savings, we are faced with many alternatives and suggestions to lower our monthly power bills. 

That is where renewable energy comes in. This is the general term used for energy collected from resources which naturally replenish themselves, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. Apart from electricity generation, renewable energy also provides power in three other important areas: air and water heating/cooling, transportation, and rural (off-grid) energy services.  

There are quite a few options to consider for the ones who want to join in on the renewable energy trend. Therefore, we at homify have selected some prime choices for your consideration. Some are more cost-effective than others, and some are a bit more difficult to implement. But they all have one grand result in common: fewer bucks for your bill.

The benefits of using renewable energy

Double Award Winner - Engineering First Creates Super Energy Efficient Pool: minimalistic Pool by London Swimming Pool Company
London Swimming Pool Company

Double Award Winner—Engineering First Creates Super Energy Efficient Pool

London Swimming Pool Company

Using renewable energy (like the name suggests) means that you are making use of a system that does not deplete the planet’s natural resources – they keep renewing themselves. Conventional energy sources such as coal or oil are fantastic, yet they may run out sooner or later. 

Methods like making use of the sun’s heat rays and wind power to conjure up more energy might sound like magic, and to some extent they are. These methods are significantly less damaging to the environment than the more traditional methods of obtaining energy.  

Although extracting the resources needed for these new methods are more limited at certain times (and storing is more difficult), the system keeps evolving considerably. 

Using renewable energy certainly ups the advantages for our planet – the production is safe, its processes do not involve the emitting of an abundance of harmful gases, and it is certainly less risky than nuclear energy. In addition to these environmental benefits, we also have economic advantages to be thankful for. Aside from it being more cost-effective for consumers, the renewable energy industry is more labour-intensive, which means more jobs are created for each unit of electricity generated from renewable sources than from fossil fuels. 

And although the initial installation costs of a renewable energy extraction system might be a bit high, the savings of costs thereafter will be worth every penny.

Solar power systems

When looking to lower their electricity bill, most people opt for solar panels. Solar energy is the process of converting sunlight into electricity or heat. 

Although earlier methods of solar energy were not sufficient, new technological advances have made this system much better, with mass production of solar panels substantially lowering these costs. In addition, the systems used for capturing and processing sunshine do not require that much maintenance, and have become rather aesthetically pleasing elements to add to a house. Today, this type of renewable energy is a much sought-after option.  

For warm countries that receive a lot of sunshine, this is probably the best option in terms of renewable energy. And architectural companies, like Ecotectura, whose work is pictured above, do not hesitate to make use of these methods in their creations.

Wind energy

 Garden  by Jardin Design Deco Eco
Jardin Design Deco Eco

Eolienne solaire en bois naturel

Jardin Design Deco Eco

Living in a windy environment is not too pleasant. Other people certainly have noticed, but instead of complaining about it, they turned the annoyance into an advantage. 

Today, we have wind turbines, which are very effective ways to produce electricity through wind power. They work the opposite of a fan: instead of using electricity to make wind, the wind turbines use wind to make electricity. 

Utility-scale turbines range in size from 100 kilowatts to as large as several megawatts. Single small turbines, below 100 kilowatts, are used for homes, telecommunications dishes, or water pumping. The installation of a small wind system, although it requires careful planning, can reduce energy costs up to 90%.

Hybrid systems (solar and wind power)

 Windows & doors  by Bau-Fritz GmbH & Co. KG
Bau-Fritz GmbH & Co. KG

Außenansicht Alpenchic

Bau-Fritz GmbH & Co. KG

For those who want complete independence from the national grid, the hybrid system is a definite must. Small wind turbines are sometimes used in connection with diesel generators, batteries, and solar systems. These systems are known as hybrid wind systems and are typically used in remote, off-grid locations (where a connection to an electricity distribution system is not available). 

Typically, wind speeds are low in the summer when the sun is at its warmest. The reverse is also true: the wind is stronger in wintertime when there is less sunlight available. This does not pose a problem for this system. Because the peak operating times for wind and solar systems occur at different times of the day and year, hybrid systems are more likely to produce power when you need it.

For those times when neither the wind nor the solar system is producing, most hybrid systems can provide power through batteries and/or a conventional fuel engine, like diesel.

Micro-hydroelectric systems

 Garden  by Centrum ogrodnicze Ogrody ResGal
Centrum ogrodnicze Ogrody ResGal

Strumyk przepływający przez wrzosowisko

Centrum ogrodnicze Ogrody ResGal

In places that experience prolonged drought, this is not the best choice for renewable energy systems. However, for other areas, it can work a treat. 

The micro-hydro system is designed for those who live close to a water body, such as a stream or a river. This system works with a turbine, a pump or a hydraulic wheel to transform the energy of flowing water into rotational energy, which is then converted into electrical energy. 

With a 10-kilowatt generator, a system of this kind can easily produce power for a medium-sized house/family. However, for the system to be properly installed and enjoyed, the flow of the available watercourse has to be measured accurately in order to calculate the amount of energy it will be able to produce.

Disconnected from the national grid

Are you tempted to distance yourself from the national power grid and enjoy your own nature-produced power? Make sure you take the necessary precautions and don’t get left out in the dark. 

To start off with, you will need to install a hybrid system of solar and wind energy. This will need a backup of batteries or a generator that works with conventional fuel, should your renewable resources fail to provide a power supply. This may sound like a complex system, but remember that technology and electronics are designed to make our lives so much easier. Thus, consult a professional to aid you in your quest for an energy-efficient lifestyle. 

More power to you! 

Since we’re busy saving the planet, we thought you might appreciate our: Eco-Friendly Kitchens.

Are you already using energy-efficient methods at home? If not, would you consider it? Share your thoughts with us in the comments! 
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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