Saving the environment while saving money? It might sound too good to be true, but it’s not. By investing in renewable energy sources and getting your electricity from resources that are better for the planet, you can do exactly that.
There are a lot of renewable energy resources that are continually being developed and improved, but here are five that you can currently get in on and use for your electricity needs that will also save you money.
Solar is one of the renewable energy resources that’s most associated with going green, perhaps because it allows for a lot of control by the energy user.
Solar systems can be installed on rooftops, shared by a community or built and managed by utility companies.
To obtain a rooftop solar system, you can purchase it outright, take out loans to pay for it or lease it. Just check to make sure a company is reliable before you choose to work with them. Checking if they’re approved by an organization such as NABCEP can help with that. With a little research, you can also find out if there is a solar option through your electricity provider or if there is a community solar program in your area.
Although solar power does have an upfront cost if you install your own rooftop panels, switching to solar could save you somewhere between $7,000 to $30,000 over 20 years.
The U.S. produces enough energy from wind each year to power 1.6 million homes. As the wind energy industry continues to grow, you can get in on the action by getting your power from the wind.
Individual homes, small business and farms can generate their own wind energy by installing a turbine that’s smaller than 100 kilowatts. You can call your local utility and see if they have any wind power options available.
Wind energy could save you money too. A study by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) found that, while electricity prices increased by 7.79 percent in most states, the top wind energy producing states saw a price reduction of about 0.37 percent.
Geothermal energy resources tap into the natural heat located beneath the earth’s surface. We can access that energy by piping hot water from hot springs, pumping fluid through underground pipes and pulling hot water up from underground.
Due to the more involved nature of accessing this energy, you’ll have to purchase geothermal energy form a supplier or have a system professionally installed. The initial cost of installation can be high, but the reliability and efficiency are high. Geothermal energy can end up saving you between 30 and 60 percent on energy costs each year.
Biomass is another common renewable energy source that’s also relatively simple and very old. Biomass energy is produced simply by burning organic materials such as wood, crops, algae and other things.
Depending on how biomass is used, it can be both cost-effective and environmentally friendly. A study from the University of Pennsylvania found that replacing biomass with coal led to savings of between $50 and $150, as well as a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
Open fireplaces, for example though, are not as efficient as technologies such as biomass-fueled boilers. Burning organic materials does also release carbon dioxide. This is “newer” CO2, however, and the resource is renewable, which makes it more environmentally friendly as long as the materials are sustainably grown, harvested and processed.
Hydroelectric power is one of the most commonly used and oldest renewable resources. The most common type of hydro facility is the dam, which releases water from a reservoir that turns a turbines and produces power. Another type is pumped hydro, which consists of an upper and lower reservoir and is capable of storing energy for later use.
A small-scale hydroelectric power station can even be installed in a stream to produce power for a single home, business or small community. If there’s a suitable water source nearby, you could even build your own.
Although hydro systems have a high up-front cost, once they’re constructed, they have very low maintenance and operations costs and a long lifespan, which can lead to savings. If there’s a dam or pumped hydro facility in your area, they could be saving you money on your energy bills.
If you want to help save the planet and save money too, consider switching to renewable energy. Energy created with solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal and biomass technologies can be a great way to save some green in more ways than one.