Unless you’re rich, you’re probably always on the lookout for ways to save a couple bucks. One of the best ways to cut your monthly bills is by investing in renewable energy. Not from the power plant, but stuff you can scare up yourself.

Using renewable energy to power your home can reduce or completely eliminate your utility bills, and the tax incentives for installing renewables can make them even more cost effective. Here are seven different ways to power your home with renewable energy.

Rooftop Solar Panels

This is probably the most common and obvious method, if you’re looking into renewable power. Solar panels typically go on your roof, although you can also install them in your yard. Depending on your latitude and the orientation of the panels, you could generate 10 or more watts per square foot. A typical house consumes at least a kilowatt of power, so a few square feet of solar panels should be enough to power most or all of your needs.

 

If your current roof is nearing the end of its lifespan, you could also consider investing in solar shingles. Where standard rooftop solar panels are mounted on top of your current roof, solar shingles actually take the place of your roof tiles. Elon Musk’s SolarCity recently announced a plan to start producing solar shingles, and other companies like SunTegra have been making them for years.

Of course, one big weakness of solar power is that it only works when the sun is up. If you want to power your home when the sun is down, you’ll need to pay for grid electricity or invest in a second type of renewable energy.

 

Wind Turbines

Wind turbines are most commonly found in windfarms or floating offshore, but if you have enough real estate you can install a small wind turbine on your property to power your home.

There are a few downsides to a wind turbine that make them less popular in residential areas. They can be ugly and make a lot of noise. They take up space, and depending on where you live, local laws and zoning regulations may outright forbid it.

 

 

But if these disadvantages don’t apply to you or don’t bother you, wind power may be a great asset. Wind power is more stable than solar, and a good-sized wind turbine can easily generate most or all of your electricity needs. Depending on your area, wind might be a better renewable investment than solar.

 

Solar Oven

Perhaps you’re not ready to power your entire home with renewable energy. That’s a big project, and maybe it’s just not feasible for all sorts of reasons. You can still power a part of your home with renewable energy by building a solar oven.

Solar ovens are typically a science fair project, but ovens actually use quite a bit of electricity. Using the sun to passively heat your food is a good way to get started in the world of renewable energy.Solar ovens work by trapping sunlight to heat food. You can buy a solar oven or build your own out of a few common materials.

Solar ovens have several advantages, in that they heat your food for free, and they work even during a power outage or emergency. You’ll never have to have a cold meal due to a lack of power.

 

Solar Water Heating

Solar power doesn’t just have to generate electricity. You can also use the power of the sun to heat your home.

Solar water heaters use the sun to heat a reserve of water, which can then be pumped through your radiators or out your faucets or showerheads. This system is much cheaper than using gas or electricity to heat your water, and is easier to install than solar panels. If you’re not willing to completely commit to powering your entire home with renewable energy, solar water heating can be a good alternative.

There are many different types of solar water heaters, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, so be sure to select the type of system that works best for you.

 

Solar Air Conditioning

It might seem strange to use heat from the sun to cool your home, but that’s exactly what solar air conditioning does. Solar air conditioning uses the same principles of the solar water heater, but uses that hot water in an air conditioning system.

Air conditioning uses more electricity than almost anything else in your home. Air conditioning can cost you a substantial amount of money every year, especially if you have central air and you live in a hot climate. Using hot water to cool your home can save you money and help the environment.

As a bonus, the hot water produced for air conditioning can also be used for other applications in your home. Depending on your setup, you can get the benefits of solar water heating with bonus air conditioning as well.

 

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