Renewable Energy Solutions
1. LIFESTYLE CONSIDERATIONS
- Conduct an energy usage audit – how much energy you are using, what you are using and
- What are you prepared to give up – hairdryer, electric kettle, toaster ? it might seem fun
- Once your audit is complete the you will have an idea of the amount of power your
- This will be affected by your budget!
2. WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS
- Living totally off-grid – when you have no choice, the system you choose then becomes critical to your lifestyle
- Combination of renewable energy backed-up by grid power – allows you to use renewable energy options, with the security that you can switch to normal on-grid power should the renewable options fail , alternatively you can sell any excess energy you generate to the grid ( where such systems operate)
- Living totally on-grid – you can still become more self-reliant as there are many ways to minimise your energy use and maximise your energy conservation
3. LOCAL CONSIDERATIONS
Before you start spending money, check out if it is practical for you to have renewable energy options:
Do you have space for an array of solar PV Panels? The panels must receive full sun from 10am - 4pm at the very minimum, without any shading
Do you need planning permission to install a wind turbine? There must be adequate clean air for the turbine to effectively generate power – the fewer obstructions there are in front of the turbine the better, also better if you live in a windy place!
Obviously you need a source of water that has sufficient drop to turn a turbine and therefore generate power. Assessing a site to install a water turbine can get a little complicated and will need some careful measurements
Geothermal & Ground Source Energy
Vertical systems may need permission, and although good for small plots will depend upon the local geology. Horizontal systems can require up to 4502m of land
There are a number of steps you can take to reduce your energy consumption:
Super insulate your home – with heavy double curtains, draught excluders, double glazing, thick roof space insulation, thick carpets with underlay where appropriate throughout the house. Reducing your central heating by 1 C can save up to 10% off your fuel bill. In an un-insulated house, 75% of heat is lost, with 25% lost through the roof, 35% through the walls and windows and 15% through the floors.
Heat recovery systems can be fitted, where warm air from downstairs rooms is drawn into the loft where a heat recovery unit pipes warm air into the upstairs rooms. A slightly more fragrant solution to the medieval system of keeping animals in the lower rooms to warm the house above!
Passive Solar Energy – is more difficult to fit retrospectively, but adding a south facing conservatory can greatly increase the flow of warm air into the house. Orientating your house to make the most of the sun, with large windows on the southern side can also greater increase the amount of heat into the building
Budget constraints will inevitably have an impact upon the type and size of system you can afford to install. If you are living totally off-grid then the best you can afford is probably a sound investment, not just in the long term but to the level of comfort you will enjoy. No part of a total renewable system comes cheap, and all elements have to be in balance and are critical to the efficient performance of the system, so to skimp on any part will inevitably have consequences down the line. Quotes from renewable energy companies will – once you've picked yourself up from the floor! – vary dramatically and from experience will not be presented clearly or simply.
There is no reason why you cannot have a solar powered system that runs an average home, with tv, washing machine, fridge, freezer, laptops, hair-dyer , electric kettle ( although not all on at the same time!) for around £10,000 that with a little care and maintenance should last 20 plus years! As energy bills increase around the world then the financial payback will obviously be quicker not to mention the feeling of smugness!