Beginner’s Guide to Green Energy Options (2022)

Green Energy Options - Stock Image from Canva of Solar Panels and Wind Turbines

More people are searching for emission reduction technologies as eco-consumerism enters the mainstream.

Environmental engineers and scientists have been responding to the demands by developing renewable energy devices. You can effectively shrink your carbon footprint by investing in solar, wind and geothermal systems.

Renewable energy sources minimize climate change effects by converting our electricity reliance away from fossil fuels.

During combustion, “dirty” fuel sources release greenhouse gases into the environment. You can enhance global sustainability by evaluating each clean energy option and investing in the most effective system.

So, what are your green energy options available today? And which one is right for you?

Let’s take a look at some of the renewable energy options you can choose from:

The Enhanced Greenhouse Effect

Before we evaluate the different green energy options, we must assess the ecological challenges they counteract.

In America, nearly 80% of the power supplies are derived from fossil fuels. They produce greenhouse gas emissions, changing the atmosphere’s composition.

Air pollutants also limit the planet’s ability to maintain life-sufficient surface temperatures, which conserves biodiversity and vital resources.

Naturally, the atmosphere produces heat from solar radiation and uses the byproduct to warm Earth’s surface. The atmosphere also collects excess energy and emits it to space.

Greenhouse gases overproduce heat from sunlight because of their high efficiency rates.

They additionally keep extra energy in the environment, filtering it back through the heat production process.

Over time, the pollutants increase the global temperature, creating ecological degradation and intensifying natural disasters .

You can reduce the enhanced greenhouse effect by investing in clean energy.

Make informed purchases by evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of each renewable power system.

Take a look at this insightful video by National Geographic to learn more about renewable energy options:

So, what are your green energy options to use at home?

Let’s take a look:

Solar Energy

Solar power is the most recognizable form of clean energy. People invest in Photovoltaic (PV) technology to shrink their electricity-related emissions.

The panels work by attracting and absorbing sunlight through a semiconducting silicon material. The light knocks electrons loose, moving them through an electric field.

Electrons produce an electrical current as they travel through the field. Metal plates in the solar panels collect and filter it through wires.

Green Energy Options - Solar Panels on the Roof of a House

The electricity then flows through a solar inverter and into a building, delivering emission-free energy.

Solar is a beneficial renewable energy option because it delivers the most cost-effective power on the market.

PV panels also provide reliable electricity supplies to homes and commercial buildings. Depending on your location, you can access abundant energy for sunlight.

Southwest America is the brightest region, helping individuals achieve nearly 5.75 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per meter-squared a day on average. Solar panels can produce about 4 kWh per meter-squared in northern states.

Wherever you live, solar can help you access a sustainable power source.

Many individuals believe their regions are incompatible with solar energy because of frequent rain or cloud coverage.

While panels perform best in direct sunlight, they still create electricity when we cannot see the sun. Solar radiation penetrates storm clouds, supporting solar energy production.

Solar panels also decrease your reliance on the conventional power grid. Most solar homes maintain their energy outputs during outages.

Businesses with panels can reduce brown and blackout-related financial losses by increasing their consistent electricity access.

Is Solar Power Right for You?

While solar is one of the most popular renewable energy options, it has a few disadvantages, which limits its compatibility with some individuals’ needs.

PV panels require specific roof materials and designs. Wood and slate roofs are unable to support the clean energy technology, without the installation of additional support structures.

Similarly, the direction of your roof also affects panels’ energy output. If your rooftop lacks a south-facing side, they will not achieve maximum production rates. Solar technology is also less efficient compared to other devices.

Solar panels alone may be unable to support your needs if you require large quantities of electricity. However, many homeowners can find it easy to get started with solar by trying a solar panel kit or contacting a local solar panel installer.

Even if it can’t do 100% of the job, solar is a fantastic option for supplementing your home’s power. You can also increase the size of your solar setup gradually, over time, to achieve the capacity you need.

Wind Energy

Wind energy is another popular clean power option. It utilizes turbine technology to transfer local wind patterns into electricity.

Turbines have three or more aerodynamic rotor blades, which move when reacting to pressure differentiations from the wind.

Green energy options - industrial wind turbines on a wind farm

As the blades rotate, they energize a generator or gearbox. The connected devices convert the kinetic energy into emission-free electricity. Modern industrial wind  turbines are about 280 feet tall, benefiting from increased wind speeds at that height, but there are many smaller home wind turbines that you can install on your property.

Is Wind Power Right for You?

Depending on your location and setup, one wind turbine can produce nearly 402,000 kWh of electricity each month.

When you invest in wind power, you can sufficiently support your energy needs and sell excess supplies to the local grid, creating a passive form of income.

Turbines also require low operating costs, making maintenance more affordable.

Home wind turbines are becoming increasingly popular and accessible. You can explore some of the top options on the market and use research into your local environment and energy needs to decide if it’s the right move for you.

However, when it comes to their environmental impact, there are some downsides to take into consideration.

An adverse effect of wind power technology is biodiversity loss. Winged species like birds and bats often fly into turbines thinking they are trees or water sources. Nearly 888,000 bats die annually from turbine collisions.

Most environmentalists, to be fair, agree that continued use of nonrenewable energy sources has a far more negative impact on the environment for all species.

Another drawback is that the initial purchase and installation prices associated with wind energy are high.

Although turbines have their pros and cons, they effectively produce sustainable electricity and are an important part of the equation for any country looking to shift to sustainable energy solutions.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy systems rely on Earth’s temperature differentiation to produce electricity and heat.

Geothermal power stations produce power by using pressure and heated steam from underground to propel a turbine. The steam is then released or passed to a condenser, where it condenses into water droplets that are funnels back underground.

Green energy options - geothermal power station

Many green building designs make use of geothermal heating to reduce their reliance on electricity for heating.

Residential systems are typically located about 10 feet below the surface. Installation professionals place pipes in the ground where the temperature remains between 50 and 60 F.

A designated fluid filters through the pipes and into a heat pump. The system uses the heat to warm homes in the winter without producing greenhouse gas emissions.

Some systems also use temperature differentiations to create clean electricity. The electricity-producing geothermal technology uses deeper connections to the Earth, collecting steam.

The steam moves a turbine connected to a generator, which converts kinetic energy into electricity.

Is Geothermal Power Right for You?

Individuals can invest in geothermal energy systems and reduce their residential emissions by nearly 90% on average.

While geothermal technology effectively reduces atmospheric degradation, it also has some disadvantages.

Purchasing and installing the system is expensive, and many individuals are unable to afford it. Additionally, installing power-producing technology can cause earthquakes, disrupting local ecosystems.

Final Thoughts on Green Energy Options

You may feel ready to invest after exploring the differences between the top renewable energy systems. Before purchasing clean energy technology, you should explore production limitations in your region.

You should also set a reasonable budget, assessing available systems within your price range. After doing those things, your ideal renewable energy source should be clear.

About the Author

Image of the author - Evelyn Long

Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated, where she covers sustainable housing and improved building techniques for readers interested in a greener future.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of renewable energy options?

Investing in renewable energy for your home is a big decision, so it makes sense to get a full picture of the upsides. First, for eco-conscious homeowners, it’s one of the best ways to make a marked positive impact on the environment and step away from fossil fuels.

A secondary benefit is that generating your own power saves you money on electricity — often significant money — which can make up the upfront cost of renewable energy installations within a relatively short amount of time. Finally, this technology is becoming more efficient and accessible all the time, making now a great time to jump in! Check out the full guide to see which green energy option is best for you.

What is a quick list of renewable resources?

We covered the most efficient and popular renewable resources in our article, but researchers are exploring many alternative energy sources. Here’s a list of renewable resources to explore:
- Solar energy
- Wind energy
- Geothermal energy
- Biomass energy, like ethanol
- Hydropower
Check out the full guide for more on each of these green energy options.

Can I use renewable energy as my primary source of energy?

This can be a challenge, but homeowners committed to living a fully sustainable lifestyle can commit to renewable energy sources as their primary source of power! Some homes and communities are built to achieve this by focusing on net-zero energy goals. These homes often embrace a variety of renewable energy sources, energy storage and energy-efficient lifestyles to reduce reliance on electricity in the first place.

Some obstacles do remain for many homeowners who want to ditch fossil fuels. Older homes and homes in certain climates may have higher energy needs. Currently, energy storage technology may not be enough to cover these households when the sun goes down or the weather is frigid. However, renewable energy improves with every year, so don’t give up — keep doing research and you will find new ways to reduce your energy use! Check out this guide for the best green energy options to choose from.

References and Useful Resources

Climate Reality Project: How Exactly Does Geothermal Energy Work?

Energy.gov: How Does Solar Work?

Stanford University: Geothermal Energy Benefits

US Energy Information Administration: Today in Energy – Fossil Fuels Account for the Largest Share of U.S Energy

USGS: How Much Wind Energy Does it Take to Power an Average Home?

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