So you want to green your house but the current price of installing a solar power system big enough to run the place is beyond your budget…what should you do?
Instead of installing that system right now which can cost $30,000 or more, there are a few things you can do that will cost less and make your life a little more green. Personally if I owned or was building my own house right now I would go geothermal as it seems a no-brainer. Here are 3 options that were discussed in Smart Money magazine lately along with my thoughts on each:
Geothermal – This is when you bury some pipes under your yard and they heat and cool your house using the temperature of the earth, which stays at a pretty constant temperature of 45 – 58 degrees F can be found. So in the summer, your house is nice and cool when it is 95 outside, and in the winter your house is kinda warm without even turning on the heat when it is 22 outside. These systems tend to run about $7,500, but they can cut utility bills by 30-60% year over year.
Solar water heaters – These are sort of like regular solar systems except they are used to only heat up water for your house. Considering that we use a ton of energy to just heat water for our showers, dishwashers and faucets, installing one of these systems can help you breathe easier by using the sun to do what fossil fuels normally do. They are way more efficient than entire house systems as they only need to heat up the water that you use, so the return on investment is pretty quick. (However, I don’t really consider the ROI because I believe just being “green” is a good ROI). These systems cost $3500-$5500 but they can save 85% on water heating costs.
Install a wind turbine – OK so you are not going to make any friends in the neighborhood by installing a 35 feet tall tower in your front yard, but if you live somewhere rural installing a wind turbine might be a good option for you. $15,000 will normally get you a nice tower that can power your house as long as you live somewhere where the wind is pretty constant, and it is cheaper than a whole-house solar system.
The reason I wanted to mention these was that if the solar house thing is just too much right now, there are other options you can look into in order to make your life a little more green and less reliant on fossil fuels. As we begin the inevitable decline of the availability of these fuels, you are going to want to have these systems already in place and working for you!