More consumers are switching from fossil fuels to green energy to heat and power their homes. Pricing has been a major hurdle in ending humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels, but this gradual shift has caused renewable energy to become an option for the average consumer. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, green energy options will be competitively priced with fossil fuels by 2020. Choosing which type of renewable energy works best in your area, combined with cutting back on utility usage, can make powering homes far more affordable now than in previous decades. As there are more renewable energy options available, it’s worth considering switching to a more environmentally friendly option. Here’s a quick crash course on different types of renewable energy for your home.
Natural gas is created via the same process as coal and oil, despite being much cleaner than both. Eons of pressure on plant and animal remains creates the gas, which becomes trapped in cracks under the earth. Gas is extracted via drilling, which is generally a fairly simple process with most types of rock. When the gas is trapped under shale, such as in Pennsylvania, a process known as hydraulic fracturing used for extraction. Fracking, as it is commonly known, uses pressured water, sand and chemicals to break the rock apart for harvest. While this process is generally completed responsibly, there is a risk of contamination of ground water and earthquakes during extraction. As it has increased in popularity recently, natural gas is now available through most gas companies. This is due to energy deregulation, which, according to Provision Power & Gas, gives consumers the ability to choose their natural gas supplier based on the best rate and plan. This allows consumers to shop around and pick out the best gas supplier for their budget. While pricing varies based on your area’s market, natural gas is cleaner and more efficient than traditional home heating methods.
Solar has perhaps the lowest impact on the environment out of any type of energy. What discourages many consumers from installing solar panels is their appearance. Enter solar shingles, which are small and blend in with regular asphalt shingles. Solar shingles have increased in popularity in recent years, resulting in their price dropping to that of regular solar panels. A standard cluster of solar shingles can reduce home energy costs by 40%-60%. Currently, American consumers can receive a tax credit for installation, offsetting the $20,000 cost of set up. Solar panels and shingles are also a great way to increase your home’s value while saving on electricity costs.
If you’re not interested in extensive roofing work, consider harnessing the earth’s own heat with geothermal energy. This feat is accomplished by drilling a well about one mile deep and injecting water into the hot rocks below. The steam issuing from the ground is then used to power a turbine, creating electricity. This process has a very low impact on the environment as it requires no fossil fuels to be burned. The United States, despite being the largest consumer of geothermal heating globally, relies on this process for less than 1% of energy usage. That figure is projected to increase to around 5% by 2040, which will cause an eventual reduction in cost for consumers. Presently, installing a geothermal heating system costs between $20,000 and $25,000 on average, but there are tax incentives to offset the cost. For homeowners, this is another great way to increase a home’s value while lowering its carbon footprint.
Though there are advantages and disadvantages to each type of energy, choosing renewable over fossil fuels is more important than ever. With the effects of climate change becoming more apparent with each sweltering summer, consumers must vote with their wallets to make renewable options the only choice for powering the home. As more customers sign up for natural gas, solar and geothermal energy, the costs for all services will shrink. Now that these more sustainable types of energy are becoming competitive with oil, it is only a matter of time before fossil fuel usage in the home is as extinct as the organic matter used in its creation.