Obviously, one of the best ways to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions is to conserve energy through insulation, energy efficient appliances and good habits.
There are also a variety of ways to make your own energy at home which is a way to reduce your carbon footprint and make yourself more self-sufficient.
Make your own energy at home
Making energy at home roughly fall into two categories:
- Electricity generation systems – including solar panels, wind turbines and micro-hydro.
- Non-electric energy generation – including growing biomass, solar hot water and ground source heat pumps.
We will outline options for both of these categories below.
Generating Electricity at Home
Below are a variety of ways that you can make your own energy. These may or may not be available or feasible in your area depending on climate and weather conditions. Also, local government regulations may limite what you can and can’t do. You will need to do a bit of research.
The good news is that your local government may have financial incentives (grants, subsidies etc) that will make your installation more affordable.
Every ray of sun is free electricity for the taking, and you need a solar panel to capture it.
Solar panels are generally installed on the roof of your house. There are many professional installers who will give you an assessment of the best system and offer an estimate. You can even get solar shingles which provide a more [streamlined] look.
Energy generated by solar panels will be either used or stored right away. When your home is consuming more energy than your solar panels are generating, the solar energy offsets the amount of electricity you need to purchase from the grid. But when you’re generating more than you’re using, you may be able to sell that excess energy back to the electrical utility, depending on where you are. Instead of delivering excess electricity back into the grid another option is to install a storage system, which can store that energy until you need it.
There are a number of small-scale wind turbines available to make your own energy. They can take a big chunk out of your electricity bills if you live in a sufficiently windy area.
Professional installation is important here as well, both to ensure the turbine is safe and to place it where the wind will reach it. Like solar panels, unless you have a storage system you have to use it or lose it when you generate electricity from wind turbines.
If you have a running stream on your property you may be able to divert the flow of water through a small turbine and let the current generate free electricity – all day every day!
Whilst microhydro is the most reliable generation system, most people aren’t fortunate enough to have a stream on their property. A more common way to make your system more reliable is to have a hybrid solar and wind system. The combination makes it more likely that your home will generate electricity around the clock, so you could theoretically disconnect from the grid entirely with the addition of a battery system.
Non-electric energy generation
Not all energy that can be generated is electricity. You can burn, and potentially grow, biomass for cooking, space heating and water heating. You can use the sun’s rays for heating water, heating space and even for cooking. You can transfer heat from the ground into heat for your house.
Solar Water Heaters
A solar water heater is a less expensive way than solar panels to capture some free energy. They are attached to your roof and directly heat water when the sun in shining.
Geothermal (Ground source) Heat Pumps
Temperatures below ground are much more stable than the temperatures where our homes are, and during the winter, a geothermal heat pump can acquire some of that buried warmth. These systems use a closed loop of pipes to pump fluid through an underground channel, into your home and back underground again. Inside the home, a heat exchanger uses warmth from the pipes to heat living spaces while using minimal electricity. And read about air source heat pumps here –>
If you have sufficient land you could grow wood or other biomass to burn cooking, heating and hot water (with a wet-back). Biomass does emit greenhouse gases but as long as the biomass is regrown burning it is carbon neutral. Even if you can’t grow it yourself, if you can source it locally from a sustainable producer it is a cheaper, carbon neutral way to get energy.
There are other ways to make your own energy including: solar stoves; solar dryers; solar stills; passive solar heating, heat storage and greenhouses; and, passive refrigeration systems.
Just like a hybrid electricity system which provides a more reliable source of electricity, you can combine any of the options mentioned here to reliably make your own energy at home.