Question

i want to find out what alternative energy system is good to reduce or replace a home's energy needs

Asked by Nilo Ayuban

1.I'm not ready to spend thousands of dollars on a system, but want to install an alternative energy system; what can i do? 2. is it possible to build and install a system myself? 3. is it possible to power a household completely by the source of power you recommend? 4. can excess power be sold to others? Can you store the energy? 5. how durable the systems? What maintainace will they require? 6. how much do the system cost? Which seems like the most appropriate system? 7. how can i get more information? If you could help me summarize the findings; it really appreciated...thank you very much.

Answer

Dear Nilo, Let me answer your seven questions: 

1. I want to install an alternative energy system. What can I do? In order to decide on any alternative energy system you first have to analyze your individual situation. Three main issues are critical in regards to residential energy consumption: 

a) Consider the design of your building. The effectiveness of any energy system depends on the performance of your building: Are the walls of your home insulated well? Are the windows single, double or triple glazed? Are they oriented correctly depending on your climate zone? Is your roof well insulated? Is it high albedo to reduce urban heat island effects? Did you consider a green roof? (http://www.greenroofs.org/) What is the nature of your mechanical equipment? Do you have air-conditioning? Is the orientation of the home suitable for passive solar energy? Does your landscaping support your energy model? What is the direction of the prevailing winds on your site? 

b) Determine your annual energy needs. Your energy bill will tell you how energy-demanding your lifestyle is. Ask yourself if you can reduce your consumption by changing your habits. Replace inefficient appliances with energy star rated ones. (http://www.energystar.gov/) 

c) Find out everything about your current energy source. Maybe your local energy provider offers alternative energies from wind farms, communal thermal pumps or tidal energy plants. If no alternative energy is available in your community you can research if the installation of a photovoltaic system is the right solution for your home. The performance of a solar system depends on its solar exposure which can be measured with an instrument called a solar path finder. Most solar professionals come to your home and offer first consultations free of cost. (http://www.findsolar.com/) 

 2. Is it possible to build and install a system myself? Unless you are a qualified professional such as a certified electrician it is not recommended to install an alternative energy system yourself. Professional installation guarantees a successful inspection and provides the owner with a warranty should the system not perform as intended. 

3. Is it possible to power a household completely by the source of power you recommend? Depending on the size and orientation of your solar system your household energy needs can be completely covered or even exceeded. 

 4. Can excess power be sold to others? Can you store the energy? If excess energy can be sold to the energy company depends on your local energy provider. Yes, solar off-grid systems store energy in batteries. These systems are only recommended for very remote locations with no communal energy supply or for very small applications such as a parking meter or an outdoor lighting fixture. 

5. How durable the systems? What maintenance will they require? Again, this depends on the system of your choice. Usually solar systems have very low to no maintenance; most solar installers offer maintenance in their contracts. If you live in an area with high air pollution you might want to clean the PV panels from dust for higher efficiency. 

6. How much do the system cost? Which seems like the most appropriate system? The amount of your initial investment, your return on investment and your life-cycle costs all depend on your local jurisdiction, available tax credits, incentives of your power company and of course the system chosen. 

7. how can i get more information? Nilo, I hope I could answer most of your questions. 

For more specific information regarding your individual home please feel free to contact us at info@kristinahahn.com. Very best and Happy New Year, Kristina Hahn

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