According to the National Solar Jobs Census, one in every 50 jobs added in the US in 2016 were from the burgeoning solar industry. Through the use of solar energy subsidies and growing demand in the market, more suppliers have entered the industry creating about 93,000 solar related jobs in the past seven years.
This has also lowered prices for solar panel and other renewable equipment installs, allowing more people to access this technology. The switch to renewable energy supplies may seem obvious- free utility bills and no damage to the environment- but there are still barriers that exist. From large up front costs to inconsistent electrical supply, renewable energy still remains in its infancy.
Still, renewable energy installations really are a great long-term investment and can begin delivering an ROI in over a decade. Here are seven ways you can plug into renewable energies and begin saving the environment.
According to one source, the average cost for a 5kW solar panel install would run customers anywhere from $25,000-$30,000. Of course, the average American household only consumes around 1kW of electricity per hour so you can find smaller installs that cut this price in more than half.
The benefits of installing a solar panel only extend as far as your geographic location. For cities like Albuquerque that experience over 300 days of sunlight, solar panels are a no brainer. In areas like Pittsburg that only get around 5-6 hours of sunlight a day, the cost savings may add up, but it will take years longer before the solar panels effectively pay for themselves. Of course, there are also other solar appliances that you can purchase from solar powered ovens to solar powered smartphone chargers that can cut your reliance on the grid.
Solar Thermal Collectors
Solar powered water heaters are another smart investment that you can make to help cut money on utility bills. Solar thermal collectors are cheaper than most PV cell installs and don’t require as much sunlight to add cost-savings. Think of it, you don’t use as much hot water as you do electricity.
Solar thermal collectors work in conjunction with existing boilers or immersion heating systems to reduce your reliance on grid powered hot water heaters. With a low install cost, these can be installed on both rooftops and in your yard for maximum effectiveness.
Rainwater Collection Systems
Rainwater collection systems are a cheap investment that can help you practice conservation in your home. These attach to your existing rainwater equipment and store rainwater to be used for non-potable water purposes. This could include flushing the toilet or watering the lawn. Installs cost as low as $50 and may go as high as a few hundred.
Solar Air Heaters
Some experts estimate that solar air heaters can save you up to hundreds of dollars a month during the winter on heating bills. Solar air heaters are glass panels that fit in existing windows to provide space heat to the surrounding area of the room. They use a heat vent to circulate heat from the sun’s rays and transfer it into your house. They don’t require a high upfront cost or a complicated installation.
The Tesla Powerwall
The powerwall is a massive battery that fits inside your wall and stores multiple kWh of energy for later use. While this not a renewable energy source, these can be used in conjunction with one to store clean electricity. They can save customers hundreds of dollars a year on utility bills and help reduce electrical waste in the household.
Wind turbines are not a good investment for everyone for obvious reasons. Wind turbines are also less popular in residential neighborhoods because they make a lot of noise. If you have the space, a wind turbine may be a great way to power your home. With greater energy storage than most renewable energy applications, wind turbines can make your homes entirely energy independent.
Finally, if you can’t afford to purchase a huge solar panel installation or wind turbine, there are energy credits available. Beyond this, many businesses are required to purchase renewable energy credits to offset their carbon footprint. If you produce renewable energy, you can actually sell extra load back to the electrical grid and be reimbursed. Talk to an energy broker about ways to make the most out of your energy usage and find ways to save using renewable energy.