Today’s growing concerns toward high energy costs, dependence on foreign oil and pollution-generating fuel sources are all driving the construction industry to pursue more energy efficient technologies for the home. The most traditional way to heat, cool, and light a home has been to pay the utility company highly fluctuating costs. This may not remain the most popular option for long, at least not if developments in energy efficiency continue forward at their current rate. Learn how geothermal, solar and wind power are taking center stage.
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According to RSI, the EPA and DOE have declared geothermal as the most energy efficient way to heat and cool a home. The technology is especially applicable in residential situations. Benefits include the following:
- Operating costs are 80% lower than running an electric furnace.
- A geothermal heat pump consumes only a fraction of the electricity needed to run an air conditioner, greatly reducing its environmental impact.
- The underground piping typically lasts 50 years, astounding longevity compared to other HVAC equipment.
- With few moving parts, repairs are less frequent and costly.
The geothermal industry is growing at an impressive rate. In 2009, it supplied less than 1% of the world’s energy. By 2050, it’s expected to account for 10 to 20%. The system costs more to install than a traditional air conditioner/furnace combo, but the amazing energy savings, longevity and few repairs allow the system to pay for itself multiple times in its lifespan.
According to Clean Line Energy Partners, photovoltaic (PV) solar panels give homeowners the power to generate their own electricity for hot water heating and cooling. PV cells convert sunlight directly into electricity. The technology offers many benefits:
- Solar energy produces no pollution.
- The cost of solar panels has dropped 30% since 2010.
- The sun shines brightest when utility rates are at their highest, guaranteeing lower utility bills.
- Homes can be powered independently while off the grid or homeowners can sell excess electricity back to the utility company.
- Sunlight is an inexhaustible resource. Even on cloudy days, PV cells continue to soak up light and generate electricity.
The rapid growth of solar energy in the US is apparent. According to Clean Technica, the number of new solar energy systems installed between 2010 and 2014 grew by 418%. While solar energy still only accounts for just over 1% of the nation’s total electricity output, it clearly has huge potential to contribute even more in the future.
When you think of wind power, you probably picture fields with huge turbines spinning in the breeze. However, according to Bergey WindPower Wind School, small wind turbines can power individual homes. Residences remain tied to the grid, using a combination of traditional and wind-powered electricity. The benefits of choosing wind power include:
- Utility bills decrease by 50 to 90%, thereby offsetting the pollution the utility company would have generated to power your home.
- Wind turbines produce no pollution.
- No batteries are required in modern systems.
- Extra electricity can be sold to the utility company.
- Wind turbines typically last 30 years, offsetting 1.2 tons of air pollutants and 200 tons of greenhouse gases in that time.
According to Clean Line Energy, wind power generated about 2% of the electricity used in the US in 2010. Since then, wind turbines have represented 25% of all new electricity-generating construction projects.
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