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Green

How to heat your home with renewable energy

Monday, January 06, 2014   by: Greener Ideal

solar panels on home

Your annual heating bill depends on two factors: your location and heating equipment. You can’t do much about the first, but you can save on your heating bill by upgrading your home with a new heating system. In the past five years, renewable energy has emerged as an economically viable alternative to oil, natural gas, and electricity.

Comfortable Temperatures Year-Round with Geothermal

Even though the outside temperature fluctuates hour to hour, the ground is a relatively constant temperature throughout the year. A geothermal heating system pumps the ground’s stored heat into your home. Because you’re not actually generating heat, you only have to pay to operate the pump. However, geothermal heat pumps tend to cost more upfront than fossil fuel heating systems.

Maintenance costs are surprisingly low. You won’t have to repair broken heating elements, and most pumps will last for at least 15 years. Geothermal heat pumps work well regardless of where you live, but the high upfront costs mean they’ll save you more money in colder climates.

Photovoltaic and Solar Heating Panels

Solar panels can refer to either photovoltaic panels, which transform sunlight into usable electricity, or heating panels, which capture the sun’s thermal energy. While photovoltaic panels are more expensive, you can use them to power all of your electronics including your television, computer, microwave, and washing machine. Solar power works best in southern states. You can still take advantage of solar panels in northern states, but the panels will take longer to pay for themselves.

Solar heating panels are much more efficient than electrical heat. Current photovoltaic panels convert about 22 percent of the sun’s energy into electricity, but solar heating panels capture most of the sun’s thermal energy.

Sustainable Natural Gas

Natural gas is a fossil fuel, and it takes millions of years for organic matter to break down. However, fuel companies are speeding up this process with the help of mass-produced biomass. Although biofuels like sustainable natural gas will never be able to supply 100 percent of the world’s heating requirements, they are already reducing the world’s carbon footprint.

It’s true that burning sustainable natural gas produces CO2, one of the chief greenhouse gases contributing to anthropogenic climate change, but biofuel production removes a comparable amount of CO2 from the atmosphere. While they’re not quite carbon neutral, biofuels are far more sustainable than natural gas, heating oil, and propane.

Reducing Your Home’s Heating Requirements

Renewable energy is only half of the equation. You might be able to reduce your carbon footprint and heating bills for a fraction of the price by renovating your home with energy efficient windows, doors, and insulation. A brand new set of windows will cost anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000, but you might be able to cut your annual heating bill in half while making your home far more comfortable. If you don’t mind crawling around in your attic, you can install a fresh layer of R-30 fiberglass insulation for about 50 cents per square foot. A combination of energy efficient improvements and renewable energy will generate the biggest savings in the long run.

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