Pros and Cons of Using Your Yard to Power Your Home

The news is constantly filled with mentions of how energy prices are rising, and it’s a very popular conversation topic – when was the last time you complained about the price of gas in your area?

However, gas prices in the US are largely driven by world demand, which has continued to rise with many countries becoming increasingly economically developed.

These mentions have caused a lot of households to turn to producing their own energy through micro scale, domestic renewable energy measures. As part of government commitments to reducing carbon emissions and decreasing the use of fossil fuels, generous subsidies are available both at state and federal levels, which vary depending on the precise technology installed. What is out there, and which measures should you be installing in your yard?

Learning About Solar Panels

solar powerSolar panels are the most popular domestic option currently supported by a grant scheme. Across the US, there is a federal grant of 30% regardless of the size of the installation. When this money is combined with annual energy savings (which are likely to amount to somewhere between 70% and 100% of your electricity bill), the system will pay itself off and then you’ll start making a profit.

Solar panels for your home can either be installed in your yard or on your roof – the majority of homeowners will have an appointment before the installation, at which the prospective companies ought to be able to find out the best possible way to set up the system for your home. They will also be able to teach you about state incentives – many states offer a Feed In Tariff, which is a scheme paying you for every unit of electricity generated which you don’t use, but which is automatically fed back into the main grid.

Learning About Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are an option that haven’t yet gained massive popularity in the US, but they are almost an everyday item in France or much of Europe. They work by pumping water underground where the temperature is higher than the air temperature during winter. This heat is then concentrated and used to provide central heating for your home, or for providing hot water.

During the summer, the temperature is lower under the ground, and so the water will be pumped through the pipes and returned to the system at a lower temperature – this can then be concentrated to provide very cold air for air conditioning.

The grant available for these is also 30%, and the time taken for such a system to pay itself off is typically between 10 and 15 years. The installation process for geothermal systems is quite a lot more intensive than solar panels – a large area of your yard will have to be dug up so that the water pipes can be laid approximately 1.5 to 2 feet under the ground.

This can take a week or two to carry out, during which time your yard will be rather messy! However, in the long run, they are a good way to cut your bills particularly if you spend a lot on central heating (with your boiler or furnace) or air conditioning.

It is possible to buy air source heat pumps, which require an incredibly simple installation, and they cost a lot less initially. However, the returns are much lower as they aren’t as efficient – this means that they actually take longer to pay off, although they require a significantly smaller (approximately $5,000 compared to $15,000) initial outlay.

Learning About Wind Turbines

wind powerLastly there’s small scale wind turbines – you can install a system in your own yard. These haven’t really taken off in popularity though – in order to generate a significant amount of electricity, it’s necessary to get a pole mounted system so that the turbine is raised off the ground.

The time taken for these systems to pay themselves off varies tremendously with your yard’s geographic location, as well as local geography – nearby trees or built-up areas will all decrease average wind-speeds and therefore the return on the investment.

Overall, there are loads of renewable options available for your yard. The over-riding downside common among all of them is the initial cost – whilst they tend to offer a brilliant return over a long timescale of 10 years or more, in the short run they can be a financially difficult experience!

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