Dilemma of Alternative Energy System For Home
- We decide to install an alternative energy system for home, something like a solar power system or a wind energy system. Any alternative energy system for home we install is going to burn holes in our pockets in spite of the tax cuts and subsidies we may be able to avail of. The only way we can make the expenses bearable is by opting for a smaller system and that would mean we may have to forego some of the electrical comforts and conveniences we are so used to. Is it really worth it? We decided to install alternative energy system for home like the solar or wind energy system not under duress, there was no compulsion on us. We took the decision to safeguard the future of our children and their children by cutting down the use of fossil fuels. So let us face it and take the hard decisions.
The dilemma is created by some of our household appliances and equipments. About 70% of our domestic electrical load is made up of heating appliances in one form or the other. A break-up of electricity consumption in residential sector shows that:
space conditioning, 44%
water heating, 13%
home electronics, 6%
laundry appliances, 5%
kitchen appliances, 4%
other uses, 8% (source: "Energy Conservation"- Wikipedia)
Heating appliances such as water heaters, cooking ranges, space heating equipment, etc. are the major power hogging appliances in the house. These are the appliances and equipments that are posing difficulties in providing alternative energy system for home at a reasonable cost. Why not replace these equipments by those more efficient ones running on natural gas or propane? This change will not only reduce our electrical energy requirement drastically but also help us cut down carbon emissions.
I know you find it hard to swallow that; that we burn gas and cut down carbon emission! This is no sleight of hand. You see, most of the power stations that generate electricity by burning fossil fuels work at a conversion efficiency of less than 30%. Our domestic gas burning apparatus are far more efficient in the conversion process and so we need not feel guilty of increasing carbon emissions if we use gas burning appliances at home.
Now high energy efficiency electrical equipment such as refrigerators is available; they consume 50% less energy as compared to the older equipments. Gas operated refrigerators are also available. In dry climate areas evaporative cooling equipment will provide cooling in summers at a substantially less consumption of energy.
We can get the benefit of special tax breaks and tax credits or subsidies for buying these high efficiency alternative equipment. And we could make a substantially reduction in our lighting load by changing over from incandescent lamps and fluorescent lamps to CFL lamps.
We started off considering ways to reduce investment and here we are reeling off ideas to spend more money by buying new equipment and appliances! But if we work out the overall cost, we find that for every extra dollar we spend on these alternative appliances we shall be saving two to three times that amount on alternative energy system for home such as the solar or wind powered supply.
And while we are at it, why not think of one more way of spending more to save even more? If we install solar heating system, all our requirements of domestic hot water as well as space heating will be met with free of cost of fuel and no carbon emission either.
Taking all these things into account, the situation is not all that bleak. All that is needed is a little careful planning and we shall be able to derive the benefits of alternative energy system for home for a long time of our children's lives too.
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