5 Eco-Friendly Renewable Energy Sources for Homes

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Throughout history, most electricity produced for homes came from either coal, petroleum or nuclear generators.

But now, in the age of renewable energy, there are many different ways to power a home – including eco-friendly methods.

In addition to being more sustainable, powering your home with a renewable energy source can also help save you more on utility bills in the long run. Plus, you may even be able to write off some of the installation costs come tax season.

Here are 5 of the best renewable energy sources for homes:

Geothermal

True power comes from within – at least with geothermal energy systems, that is.

Geothermal heating and cooling systems consist of a series of pipes that are buried just deep enough in the earth to take advantage of the natural warmth of its natural geological processes. These pipes then operate on a loop, propelling heat and pushing cool air into a home.

To heat the home, a geothermal heat pump pulls heat from the ground or a water source, into the air. Then, to cool the home, a geothermal heat pump pulls and releases heat back underground or into a body of water. This process is much more efficient than a fuel-burning furnace or electric air conditioning system, making it a great renewable energy source for your home.

How much does a geothermal heating system cost to install?

According to HomeAdvisor, installing a geothermal system can cost anywhere between $3,591 to $15,578 – but depending on the size of your home, where your home is located, and other factors, the cost can be much higher.

How much can geothermal systems save on utility costs?

Energy savings can vary from home to home, but according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the initial costs of installing a geothermal system are usually returned to you with 5 to 10 years.

Based on our HomeAdvisor average, this means you could save an average of over $700 to $1,500 each year by choosing geothermal heat as your home’s renewable energy source.

Solar

There’s nothing better than a bright, sunny day – especially when your home is solar powered! Solar energy is quickly becoming one of the most affordable renewable energy sources for homes and businesses alike. In fact, in 2020, the International Energy Agency called certain solar power schemes “the cheapest electricity in history.”

While home systems still have a little ways to go in terms of adoption and efficiency, the future is looking bright for solar power in residences of the future.

How much does a solar panel system cost to install?

When it comes to installation, solar panels aren’t the cheapest renewable energy for your home – yet. HomeAdvisor estimates the typical installation cost ranges between $16,730 to $30,970.

However, the DOE reports that the price of solar energy has dropped every year since 2009 – a great sign if eco-friendly renovations are in your future budget!

How much can solar panel systems save on utility costs?

Calculating your potential solar savings depends on a few factors, according to the DOE, including:

  • Your home’s electricity consumption.
  • The size of your solar energy system.
  • Whether you’ve leased or bought your system.
  • The direction your roof faces.
  • The amount of sunlight it receives.

If you’re considering solar panels, you may want to consult with a local solar expert to get the most accurate savings estimate for your home. Not quite ready to call a contractor? You can also read residential solar energy case studies for homes in your area or climate to get a better idea of the full economic picture.

Pro Tip: If installing solar panels isn’t for you, check for community solar opportunities in your area.

Community solar is a term referring to local solar farms or gardens, which are shared by multiple residents of the same area. These shared systems allow people to tap into this eco-friendly home energy source without having to pay for the installation of solar panels themselves.

Wind

When you think of wind power, your mind may immediately jump to those massive, white towers that loom over many a farmland in middle America. But did you know you can actually install small wind power systems… for your home?

While this home renewable energy source is usually only cost effective in very windy areas – places that average around 14 mph winds annually, if your home uses 300 kWh per month – it can be a great green option for homes in extremely remote areas, as it eliminates the high costs of having power lines extended for your property.

How much does a home wind system cost to install?

Wind turbines for the home can be extremely expensive to install – anywhere between $65,000 and $95,000. But, if your home is in the right area, the return on investment can be comparatively huge.

How much can home wind systems save on utility costs?

For as costly as they are to install, wind turbines can save a lot of money, if utilized in the right areas.

According to the DOE, small wind electric systems can lower your electricity bills by as much as 50 to 90 percent, if you live in an area with enough wind.

For the top five windiest states in the U.S., here’s what those savings could look like:

*Average price per kWh for November 2020
**Calculated using the average monthly electricity usage for U.S. residential customers in 2019
State State average price per kWh* Potential savings with wind power**
Nebraska10.73$47 - $85 per month
Kansas12.98$57 - $103 per month
South Dakota12.03$53 - $96 per month
North Dakota10.26$45 - $81 per month
Iowa12.34$54 - $98 per month

Find out what electricity rates are available in your state today.

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Hybrid systems

As their name suggests, hybrid systems combine two different renewable energy sources for homes – wind and solar in most cases.

Many hybrid systems allow homes to be “off the grid,” making them ideal for rural houses or homes in remote areas. These systems typically consist of a small wind turbine, a set of solar panels, a battery bank and a generator to keep the flow of electricity consistent.

How much does a renewable hybrid system cost to install?

Hybrid energy systems are highly customizable, and as such, the cost to install them can vary greatly. If you’re interested in installing one as a renewable energy source for your home, reach out to a local renewable electricity expert to find the most accurate cost estimate in your area.

How much can renewable hybrid systems save on utility costs?

Assuming your hybrid system is completely off the grid, you wouldn’t have to pay a regular monthly utility bill. However, the systems do require the purchase of deep cycle batteries, which can last anywhere between 5 to 10 years, and can cost between $200 to $400 or more per battery.

Still, this puts the average monthly cost to maintain the system at just over $3 per month – much more affordable than the national average monthly electric bill of $115!

Hydropower

Home hydropower – or microhydropower systems – are a great renewable energy option for homes with running water on the property.

According to the DOE, home hydropower systems need either a turbine, pump or waterwheel to allow the water to run through. The force of the water then creates rotational energy, which can be converted into electricity.

How much does a hydropower system cost to install?

While still fairly costly, hydropower systems are one of the cheapest renewable sources for homes on this list. The cost to install a microhydropower system can range anywhere between $4,000 to $6,000, according to the National Hydropower Association.

How much can hydropower system save on utility costs?

Determining your total microhydropower savings depends on your current electricity usage, the “head” (or height) of your waterfall, the flow of the water source, and more. But once you determine these, you can calculate your potential system’s wattage output, and compare that to your current usage to find your energy savings.

Go green now with a renewable energy plan for your home

If major eco-friendly energy improvements aren’t in the budget for right now, switching to a renewable energy plan is an easy (and much more affordable) way power your home sustainably.

By switching to a supplier that offers green energy plans, you can help support and grow renewable energy initiatives within your area.

Search energy plans near you to find the best eco-friendly electricity sources available in your area.

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