Reducing energy costs is a common concern among homeowners. Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances, LED lighting, and smart home systems are a few ways to reduce energy costs, but these options still draw energy from the grid. Incorporating renewable energy in a residence can reduce utility bills, help curb climate change, and create an energy-sufficient home with greater independence from the grid.
By embracing renewable energy sources, homeowners can significantly promote a greener future while enjoying long-term financial benefits and increased self-sufficiency. Advancements in technology are changing the energy landscape, and homeowners no longer need to rely on traditional energy sources such as the electric grid and fossil fuels to power their homes.
Here’s what you need to know about embracing electrification and creating an energy-efficient home that benefits you.
Renewable energy is the creation of energy from natural sources that can be replenished without significant harm or complications to the surrounding environment. Typically, solar power comes to mind when we speak of renewable energy, including wind power, hydropower, and biomass fuels.
Depending on where you live, you might think that homeowners and businesses have widely embraced and incorporated renewable energy. As of February 2023, wind power generates 72.7% of electricity in Iowa and 67.4% in South Dakota. Hydroelectric produces 58.4% of power in Washington and 50.6 in Vermont. In California and Nevada, solar panels generate 25.8% and 22.8%.
These production rates are rapidly increasing. Over the past few years, wind and solar made up about 80% of the electricity capacity added in the U.S. By contrast, they made up less than 30% of added power in 2010.
While it may seem that the energy transition has been accepted and these energy sources adopted across the country, much work still needs to be done.
Homeowners can take the first step toward reducing their carbon footprint and supporting this initiative by incorporating newer, energy-resilient technologies into their homes and becoming prosumers capable of creating power.
The increasing paradigm shift focuses on renewable energy for residential homes – not just commercial properties. This movement is partly driven by growing concerns about climate change and environmental issues that seem to become more pressing and severe as time goes by. Additionally, the data shows that renewable energy sources can reduce the threat of environmental destruction and save money over the long haul.
These are a few of the alternative energy options for homeowners that are becoming increasingly popular:
Rooflines across America are increasingly getting an energy upgrade with solar panels. Even so, while solar arrays in residential areas are not as rare as a mere decade ago, the U.S. still lags behind other countries deploying this beneficial technology.
Historically, the initial investment in solar panel installation was cost-prohibitive. Still, these prices have come down, and government tax incentives are working to remove this barrier to adoption, making it more affordable and obtainable for homeowners.
The benefits of solar include a significantly reduced or even eliminated electric bill and the ability to sell surplus energy back to the utility company, depending on the grid capabilities and utility programs. Additionally, implementing solar panel arrays with battery storage will ensure your power is accessible when needed and not entirely reliant on the weather or time of day. Solar panels can also increase your property value when it’s time to sell.
Solar arrays do not require significant maintenance beyond routine checks and are becoming more aesthetically appealing. They are also becoming more attainable with easy financing options, such as federal, local, regional, and utility incentives, and the ability to profit off excess energy produced. While the initial investment can seem daunting, costs are recouped in fewer years and, in many cases, can even cost less monthly than a utility bill depending on your payment plan. For example, in Los Angeles, utility bill savings and installation costs balance out within approximately seven years.
But Los Angeles has a lot of sunshine, and other states might not have the same energy generation with solar panels. Let’s look at the break-even point nationally. Using data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), American homes pay an average of $1,697 annually on electricity. Solar panels cost around $20,650 after the federal tax credit. Remember that additional incentives in your area can further reduce this price.
While that is a considerable sum, your energy savings can quickly pay for the entire array in an estimated 12 years or less as the cost of grid electricity continues to rise. Solar is a long-term investment for homeowners as it does take years to recoup the expense. Still, it’s easy to understand the financial advantages, mainly if you store the energy, charge an EV, or use your solar power to avoid using electricity at peak periods from the grid.
Batteries have long been used to run appliances, machines, and vehicles, but their applications continue to expand alongside new developments in battery technology. Battery energy storage has become critical in transitioning to a sustainable, renewable energy system. It can even be used with other technologies to create energy-independent microgrids and nanogrids.
Vast banks of batteries are being set up or used in many areas to store excess energy when not needed from renewable energy sources such as solar arrays and wind farms. Utilities and many large companies or manufacturers have embraced batteries as renewable power options enabling them to regulate voltage and frequency, meet peak demand needs, and integrate traditional power sources with renewable energy sources.
Additionally, battery storage systems can be a backup power supply in case of outages or unexpected power demands during a scorching day. Many utilities utilize a time-of-use (TOU) system to determine energy prices based on changing direction throughout the day, and a battery system can help alleviate costs when demand and prices are high, regardless of the weather.
Utilities are still the most significant segment of the battery energy storage market. Nowadays, many utilities include battery storage in their solicitations for solar projects. In recent years, many homeowners who have gone solar are embracing battery storage for backup power and to capture excess energy from the rooftop solar array when needed.
Furthermore, homeowners can leverage the power they generate with battery storage to go completely off-grid or keep the lights on in case of a power outage or natural disaster.
There are less common but still viable power-generating options for individual residential properties, depending on where the residence is. These include wind turbines and sufficient land area, and average wind speeds are available hydroelectric power if the property gets a lot of wind or there is flowing water on your property.
If sufficient land area and average wind speeds are available, small-scale wind energy systems can generate all or some of a home’s electricity needs. Combined with solar panels and battery storage, wind energy systems can provide backup or power to support daily energy needs. Remember that turbine size and wind speed determine how much electricity is generated, so this energy-generating technology will not be optimal for everyone.
Micro-hydropower is a simple and reliable form of renewable energy used for decades. If water routinely flows through your property, consider building a small hydropower system to generate electricity.
Today’s systems are far more sophisticated than old-fashioned waterwheels, which still exist but are much slower and cannot generate as much power as newer systems. The strategies used now employ conventional pumps reversed as substitutes for hydraulic turbines. For pumps to produce enough energy, there must be constant water flow.
Most micro-hydropower systems that homeowners and small business owners, typically farmers and ranchers with smaller spreads, install will produce adequate power for their property.
As large portions of the world welcome the idea of renewable energy, the public and private sectors are pushing to meet the demand for this eco-friendly energy. The notion that homeowners can save money and potentially save the environment entices many to look at ways to incorporate renewable energy for residential homes.
What does it mean to electrify your home? Here are some ideas to make your house more sustainable:
Making the home energy-efficient before installing a renewable energy system will save money on electricity bills. Energy-efficiency improvements can conserve energy and prevent heat or cool air from escaping.
Homeowners can obtain home energy assessments from their utility and install insulation and weatherizing to boost their efforts further. Replace windows, heating and cooling equipment, and large appliances with ENERGY STAR ones. Replace old-fashioned lights with LED ones that consume less power.
Some appliances in your home, such as your kitchen stove, may traditionally run on natural gas. However, stoves are not the only culprit, as many water heaters and furnaces still use natural gas and open flames to heat water and air in homes.
While some homeowners prefer gas stoves, they are becoming less popular due to the hazard that natural gas poses in residential homes.
Federal, state, and utility incentives encourage homeowners to replace their natural gas appliances with electric ones. Many cities and states are fighting to ban gas appliances in any new construction, and New York is the latest to ban gas in new buildings.
These efforts have encountered legal challenges, but the future of electrification is clear. The first all-electric neighborhood, with 155 single-family and multi-family homes, is already being built in Vermont.
Other energy-efficiency improvements can conserve energy, cut costs, and prevent energy loss. Homeowners can obtain home energy assessments and install proper insulation, air sealing, and ENERGY STAR®–qualified windows, heating and cooling equipment, kitchen appliances, and lighting systems. Smart water use, available daylight, proper landscaping, and native vegetation can improve home efficiency.
There will be up-front costs when homeowners upgrade appliances, install solar panels, and move toward renewable energy. But these costs are typically offset by the much lower cost of running a household with renewable energy.
Another positive trend is transitioning from cars with internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. This movement is gaining speed. Automakers are introducing new car models at various price points, and many big vehicle manufacturers have committed to going utterly electric within the next several years.
EVs are becoming less rare in many states. Nationally, 5.8% of new cars sold in 2022 were EVs. In January 2023, 7.1% of sales were EVs, a considerable increase over the 4.3% in January 2022. California continues to lead the move to electric cars and trucks, which made up 16% of 2022 new car sales in the state.
The tipping point is near. Buyers recognize that their EVs require less maintenance, are quiet, are more cost-effective, and do not burn carbon, which hurts the environment.
Homeowners who purchase EVs are now in the market to get charging stations professionally installed in their homes. This offers a convenient and safe way to charge their electric vehicles fully. EV drivers with charging stations at home will have less range anxiety when on the road since they know they have a secure and reliable place to charge conveniently and can set overnight.
Home electrification is a great way to commit to renewable energy sources, and it can help households run efficiently and safely, all while helping the environment. However, some are concerned about going all-electric and how quickly out-of-pocket and future costs will add up.
Those living in colder climates can expect heating costs to rise in the winter, and homes in warmer temperatures cost more to cool in the summer. Several studies have compared energy costs in homes with gas appliances versus all-electric homes. Homes in colder climates generally consume more energy than those in moderate or warmer temperatures. Electric homes in colder climates may cost slightly more to run in winter but offer the benefits of being eco-friendly, safer, and eligible for potential incentives or tax credits.
Depending on the homeowners’ location, going electric could be a great way to stay eco-friendly and save money on recurring energy costs. Homeowners must evaluate their circumstances to see what makes sense for them.
Making moves toward renewable energy in residential homes is a big step. You want to make sure your decisions will work for you years from now as your household needs evolve. Qmerit can help. Our network of vetted, certified installers has installed over 269,000 EV charging stations and18,500 battery storage systems, and integrated more than 53,000 solar panel systems.
Finding a trusted installer can be challenging, but Qmerit makes it easy. As the recognized leader for EV charging station installations and other electrification technologies in North America, Qmerit’s network of certified installers is trained in electrification technologies and uses commercial-grade materials to provide installations you can rely on for years to come.
Having a safe, high-quality installation protects your home and your investment, and with Qmerit’s Peace of Mind Guarantee, you’ll always receive a top-quality experience. Get started with your electrification journey today – contact Qmerit today for a seamless service as you build your home for the future and experience all that home electrification has to offer!