Renewable Energy Saving Tips
Renewable energy from the sun or wind is clean, green and free, making it a compelling alternative to costly electricity. TotalProtect® Home Warranty investigates the growing trend of homeowners switching from conventional to renewable energy to lower or even eliminate energy bills. Could it be the right move for you too?
Renewable Energy: Solar Power
Solar power is the most popular renewable energy choice: a 2012 Reuters news article cites growth figures of 140% during the previous year, as reported by the Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA). Costs have dropped too: SEIA reports full system prices are 33% lower and panel prices are 58% lower on average, compared to previous years.
Does a solar power system make sense for you? Getsolar.com experts suggest it might if:
- You have large monthly bills and plan to stay in your home for many years.
- You verify connectivity to your utility company grid (referred to as "grid-tied"). This allows you to sell any unused renewable energy that you generate, (called renewable energy credits or RECs), back to your utility. More states are now requiring utility companies to offer this.
- You have access to utility rebates, tax incentives and/or low financing rates. (There's currently a 30% federal tax credit offered through 2016. Visit energystar.gov for details.)
TotalProtect experts recommend that you begin by researching the different systems available. Besides silicon Photo Voltaic (PV) panels, there are now newer thin-film cell and tile technologies. A professional onsite appraisal will help identify the best system for your needs. Getsolar.com estimates that costs run about $9-10/watt installed, but vary a great deal by project.
A much cheaper way to harness solar power is through a thermal system. GetSolar.com refers to them as the "cousin of solar electric systems." Instead of turning sunlight into electricity, a thermal system captures it and uses that heat energy to heat water, pools and small indoor spaces.
Renewable Energy: Wind Power
According to the Department of Energy (DOE) Wind Powering America website, a small home-based wind energy system can be among the most cost-efficient renewable energy systems. However, harnessing wind power is trickier than solar power. The DOE explains:
- There must be enough wind to generate needed electricity--not all U.S. climates offer this.
- Your neighborhood must allow tall towers or you must live with no tall obstacles nearby.
- You need at least one acre to house a turbine big enough to provide significant electricity.
- You need interconnection ability with your utility service provider.
The DOE estimates a small system runs about $6,040 per kilowatt installed, (based upon its source: the American Wind Energy Association 2011 U.S. Small Wind Turbine Market Report.) Wind energy requires a big upfront spend, but the DOE says savings can end up competitive when comparing upfront cost to a lifetime of reduced or zero utility bills.
Not Ready for Renewable Energy? TotalProtect Can Still Help You Lower Your Energy Bill
Poorly functioning systems and appliances waste more energy dollars than you may realize. So, TotalProtect offers all homeowners a free 103-point checklist for testing your systems and appliances four times per year, and a maintenance calendar to put on your refrigerator or bulletin board. Find these items and more in the TotalProtect Home Care Center.
The information in this article is intended for the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are intended to indicate coverage by our home warranty or service plans. Please review your contract carefully to understand what your product coverage entails.
TotalProtect® is a registered trademark of Cross Country Home Services, Inc.