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Solar, Wind, Hydropower: Home Renewable Energy Installations

April 17, 2013 - 1:44pm

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This Lakewood, Colorado home was built in 1956. Brent and Mo Nelson upgraded the home with multiple solar technologies including; daylighting, passive solar and active solar. They also have an 80 gallon solar hot water heater. | Photo by Dennis Schroeder, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

This Lakewood, Colorado home was built in 1956. Brent and Mo Nelson upgraded the home with multiple solar technologies including; daylighting, passive solar and active solar. They also have an 80 gallon solar hot water heater. | Photo by Dennis Schroeder, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Homeowner Andrea Mitchel, with installer Joe Guasti, proudly shows off small wind turbine installed in Oak Hills, CA. | Photo by Karin Sinclair, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Homeowner Andrea Mitchel, with installer Joe Guasti, proudly shows off small wind turbine installed in Oak Hills, CA. | Photo by Karin Sinclair, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

This Lakewood, Colorado home was built in 1956. Brent and Mo Nelson upgraded the home with multiple solar technologies including; daylighting, passive solar and active solar. They also have an 80 gallon solar hot water heater. | Photo by Dennis Schroeder, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Homeowner Andrea Mitchel, with installer Joe Guasti, proudly shows off small wind turbine installed in Oak Hills, CA. | Photo by Karin Sinclair, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

When it comes to saving energy at home, there are many low-cost and even no-cost options to keep your energy bill low. But what if you’re ready to take a bigger step? If you’ve successfully addressed the low-hanging fruit – like performing energy audits, installing programmable thermostats, and sealing air leaks – it may be time to consider incorporating clean energy into your home energy-saving strategy.

Solar Panels

If you’ve made your home as energy-efficient as possible and are looking for new opportunities to reduce your energy consumption, it may be a good time to go solar. With advancements in technology and the expansion of the solar industry, prices for solar panels have fallen dramatically. Innovative new solar financing models – including options to lease solar panels are also increasingly viable options.

Not in a home that can support a rooftop solar system? It may be worth considering a community shared solar energy project. In this setup, community members band together to purchase a collective solar energy system. Each community owner gets a share of the power generated by the solar installation, a credit on their utility bill or other financial benefit.

Ready to weigh your solar options? We have several guides to get you started:

Wind Turbines

If you live on at least one acre of land with strong wind resources, wind turbines can be an incredibly efficient way to produce electricity for your home. Small wind systems can reduce your energy-costs by as much as 90 percent, but they do require careful planning. Estimating your wind resource and checking your local permitting and zoning requirements are key factors to consider in order to pursue this option. As with solar panels, the prices of small wind energy systems are coming down and we’re supporting initiatives to bring down the cost even further.

To learn more about installing wind turbines at home, check out these Energy Saver Guides:

Hydropower Systems

If you have a stream, creek or other source of flowing water on your property, you might consider installing a small hydropower system. Generally, a 10-kilowatt microhydropower system can provide enough power for a large home, small resort or a small farm. To incorporate hydropower at home you’ll need to determine the amount of power that you can obtain from the flowing water on your property. You’ll also need to factor in permits and water rights before moving forward with the installation. To get started in weighing your options, check out these two Energy Saver guides:

If you’re ready to make the commitment to a renewable energy system, you may qualify for rebates, tax credits or other incentives. Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency to find out about financial incentives in your area.

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