alternative energy: ask the experts

alternative energy: ask the experts

Written By

Lisa Anderson Shaffer

With so much talk about alternative energy it’s hard to know the ins and outs when it comes to making a choice for your home, neighborhood, and city.  Never fear. I’ve got you covered with some facts and figures from the experts about the what, where, and why of alternative energy.  So let’s dive in together!

If you are looking to fall down the rabbit hole of alternative and clean energy, look no further than the Clean Energy Solutions Center and the UN-Energy Knowledge Network.  Both sites give the micro and macro of global energy usage, renewable and alternative energy solutions, and lots of expert advice for using alternative energy to power your home and beyond.  With facts and figures about global needs, safe and realistic solutions for cities and rural areas, an afternoon spent reading the studies and findings will provide you with a global perspective of energy usage. If you are looking for the experts to weigh in on all of your energy concerns, these two sites will not disappoint!

When it comes to expert advice on where to start with alternative energy, the consensus is to review what might already be working toward energy conservation in your home. With so many options, believe it or not, starting small and simple is where it’s at.  By assessing what you can do right now, you can more easily determine what to invest in down the line.

The best place to start is to review your home’s use of passive solar energy.  In the winter, the suns rays can be used to provide your home with heat.  Windows that face south should remain uncovered in the winter to allow the low hanging sun to help heat the home.  In the summer when the sun is high, a roof overhang and blackout curtains can be used to help keep the house cool.

Creating a thermal chimney in your house can also help with temperature regulation.  Warm air rises to the top and is replaced by cooler air below.  Keeping a downstairs window open and one open at the top of a stairwell will keep air circulating efficiently to make the most of the available natural climate control.

Natural breezes provide a small taste of wind power without having to commit to turbines.  Keeping the air flowing across you home is the secret.  Windows open at opposite ends of the house create a cross wind that will keep the breeze moving across your home.

Hang it out to dry.  Clothes dryers are energy guzzlers.  When the weather permits, get your laundry out in the sun.  Nothing rids clothes of germs and dirt like the sun, and investing in a clothesline is one of the simplest things you can do to decrease your energy consumption.

When it’s time to start investing part of the household budget on alternative energy, experts advise researching solar water heating options and photovoltaics. Most geographical areas have enough sunlight, even in the winter months to harness adequate amounts of solar energy to offset costs for systems and setup and help get your family on track for energy conservation.  Got alternative energy questions? A visit to your town or city’s website can provide expert facts, figures, incentives, and local advice on where to get started in your own home and community.