Here’s our beginner’s guide To renewable energy to help you save money and save the planet. Whether we realise it or not, the climate crisis is a matter that will affect us all. Future generations may feel the biggest impacts of it, but the extremes we see in our weather today are strongly linked to the effects that generations of heavy industry and burning fossil fuels have made.
The good news is that there is still time to make a difference. The even better news is that taking action can not only benefit the planet but benefit us personally too. By switching to renewable energy in your home, you can contribute to the slowing of the climate crisis, and it might even put a few extra pennies in your pocket!
What is renewable energy?
The Energy Saving Trust defines renewable energy as being “generated from natural resources such as the sun, wind and water, using technology which ensures that the energy stores are naturally replenished”."We really need to kick the carbon habit and stop making our energy from burning things." – David Attenborough Click To Tweet
Fossil fuels do not just release pollutants into the air, but our supply of them is finite. There will come a point someday that the earth’s resources of coal, oil and gas will be used up. Therefore, the need to utilise energy sources that replenish themselves, or can be replenished by humans, is even more vital.
What are the benefits?
The benefits to the planet are clear. Fewer pollutants being released into the air will not only stem the damage being done to our atmosphere and environments but can provide the opportunity for healing as well.
UN Environment ecosystems expert Musonda Mumba says: “By reducing the need to burn wood and charcoal for energy, clean energy technologies help reduce carbon emissions and slow down deforestation practices, while providing socioeconomic and health benefits, particularly for women and children.”
You might be thinking of huge windmills located off-shore on in open spaces of farmland, but you can harvest wind energy at home too.
If you leave in an exposed and windy area, wind energy could be just as effective as solar energy to power your home with. As you will be adding to the structure of your home or property, some turbines will require planning permission before you go ahead and install, so it is best to check first.
The sun’s rays can be harnessed and turned into electricity by putting solar panels on your roof. Panels will not only power your home while the sun is out, but they can store energy in batteries for use in the evenings or return electricity to the power grid, which could make you some extra money! If the costs of installation are prohibitive, there are other measures you can use to harness the sun’s power. Installing Velux windows or sun tunnels onto your roof means more sunshine will enter your home, negating the need to turn lights and radiators on during daylight hours and saving you plenty in the long run.
Does your property back onto a stream or river? If you have legal access, you could begin to harness that to create electricity for your home.
A huge advantage over solar and wind energy is that a hydro electric generator is not reliant on specific weather conditions to run and it will harvest power day and night, provided there is not prolonged drought. Although exact estimates are tough to make, installing a hydroelectric generator is likely to be much more expensive than the previous two methods. However, if you can afford the initial outlay, it is likely to produce electricity at a much cheaper and consistent rate.
Words by Greg | Photography by Alexandra Fuller