Being organised and disciplined is the quickest way to reduce the amount of energy you consume which will, in turn, have a positive impact on your utility bills. You cut back on your energy consumption, incorporate energy efficient fittings and fixtures and hey presto, you’ll reduce what you need. That said, if you’ve made the small changes and you have money to invest, getting a sustainable energy system can provide green power and result in bigger and more long term savings.
It’s not a snap your fingers job, it is something that requires investing not only money but also time. Some installations are compatible with some homes while others are not. You’ll need to research your options, identify the systems that will work for you and talk to a number of companies about costs and expectations.
In Ireland there are a number of incentives out there to encourage the migration towards sustainable energy solutions so look to local and national government to see what these are. We have previously written about what’s available here but new incentives are in motion and we will be looking to update you when we know more. Sign up to our newsletter if you want to be kept up to speed.
Generating your own electricity at home
1. Residential Solar Panels
There’s always a fear that, as a relatively grey day country, solar panels won’t perform as well as elsewhere but that’s simply not the case. It’s light, not heat that solar installations convert to usable power. The light that hits your roof on a daily basis is ready for the taking. Solar energy captured by PV panels does have to be used or stored but each time you consume a solar generated KW is one that you don’t have to purchase from the grid. If you’re in the enviable position of producing more than you need you will soon be able to sell that back to the grid further driving down your bills.
2. Wind Turbines
While we at Caldor deal specifically with solar installations, wind turbines can also offer you the opportunity to make savings by producing your own energy… so long as you live in a sufficiently windy area, don’t mind the look of them and are prepared for significant maintenance costs due to numerous moving parts. We’re not talking wind farm mammoth turbines but residential small scale versions. As with all solar panel installations we would always recommend professional installation. They should be able to advise on planning permission requirements. Likewise, it’s a use it or lose it energy system in that you need to use what you produce as you produce it.
3. Solar and Wind Hybrid Systems
Hybrid cars have become popular so why wouldn’t a hybrid approach to producing home energy be a good idea. If you have a mixture of light filled days and windy nights working both angles could be to your advantage. In this instance, you could produce green energy around the clock which would increase the likelihood of being self sufficient.
4. Microhydro power Systems
This is not a name that falls off the tongue as readily as the first three options. That said, it’s an enjoyable twister. It’s also not a product that is spoken about all that frequently. Nonetheless it’s a valid option. Rather than harnessing the power of the sun, we harness the power of running water with the aid of a small turbine. This, in theory, allows you to generate free electricity 24 hours a day. The catch? You’ll need a running stream on your property and may need to comply with regulatory considerations such as planning permission and/or a licence from the EPA.
5. Solar Water Heaters
In terms of recognisability, this is a product that is front of mind. If a full solar panel installation is a bridge too far for your budget a solar water heater could be a less expensive way of capturing some of the sun’s power. In most colder countries (Ireland included) the tank will be installed in the hotpress, but still allows the sun to assist in lightening your energy requirement on one of the biggest energy draws in the average home.
6. Geothermal & Air Source Heat Pumps
Another of the lesser known options (though recently, they have been getting increased airtime) is the geothermal heat pump. Temperature below ground is much more reliable and stable than above ground and during winter, the warmth from underfoot can be captured. This works through a series of closed looped pipes that are used to pump fluid through an underground channel, into your home and back again. A heat exchanger uses the heat from the pipes to heat rooms while using minimal energy.
Renewable energy is a strategically smart way to reduce your dependence on the grid. That in itself is an attractive prospect given the significant increase in electricity prices we’re seeing. It’s also a way to move forward on a greener route, reducing the stress we place on the environment.
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