How to Maximize Solar Savings
Solar energy is gaining popularity as an alternative means of generating electricity in homes and businesses across America. Growing concerns about energy consumption have created a need for alternative sources of power for commercial and residential properties alike. By using alternative and more importantly renewable sources of energy, the negative effects of energy generation—like greenhouse gases, carbon footprints and use of nonrenewable resources from the earth—can be minimized and a more responsible and earth-conscious means of electricity can be cultivated and used.
Renewable Energy Sources
There are various sources of electricity that are considered “renewable,” meaning that they do not run out. Instead of traditional methods of creating electricity, which rely on burning fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) there are methods that use wind, water or the natural heat of the earth to make electric current that can be utilized in homes and businesses.
While the majority of utility companies use fossil fuels to create the electricity that is channeled into most homes and businesses, over the last many years, several companies have taken to using renewable energy sources to generate electricity.
The trouble is, for those who rely on the utility for their electricity, there isn’t usually a choice as to what resources are used to generate it. Meaning, if the utility itself uses fossil fuels, the consumer cannot request a different source be used for their home specifically. As a result, many people are taking action on their own to use less electricity within their own home or business. Using less electricity means that less resources need to be burned for that specific residence or company and this decreases what is known as a “carbon footprint” for them individually.
A “carbon footprint” refers to the amount of greenhouse gas, namely carbon dioxide, produced by the energy consumption of a person or group. Burning fossil fuels generates carbon dioxide which is harmful to the environment. Using less traditionally-generated electricity or using a means of electricity that doesn’t rely on fossil fuels allows one to effectively lower their carbon footprint and has a positive impact on the environment.
Energy Efficient Solutions to Lessen a Carbon Footprint
For those whose homes or businesses are tied into the grid from the local electric company, but who wish to use less electricity so they can lessen their carbon footprint, what options exist to accomplish this?
The main way to reduce energy consumption is through the use of energy saving devices that improve efficiency and reduce the amount of electricity actually being used. Luckily with growing awareness about the environmental impacts of electricity and energy consumption, there are many products out there designed to help consumers use less energy while maintaining their modern lifestyles.
“Smart” Thermostats and Power Strips
- These energy-conscious devices are designed to evaluate how much electricity is being used by large appliances in a home or office (the ones that generally hog up energy) and make them run more efficiently. Smart thermostats learn about habits in relation to usage of a central air-conditioner or heating system and then use this information to run the system using the least amount of electricity possible. Smart power strips can be remotely controlled to cut power to devices when they are no longer in use, or when they are found to be drawing power even if turned off.
This is a kind of system that actually allows one to control the electrical appliances and devices in their home or office from a master control that is wired in to the home’s electrical system. Appliances can be programmed to run less time throughout the day or even switched off remotely when not in use, along with many more features that allow complete control over their energy usage.
Power Factor Correction Devices
These are devices that are installed to the main electrical panel, or at a major electrical load in a home (such as a refrigerator, air conditioner or pool pump, three appliances that generally use quite a bit of electricity) and help them run more efficiently. One of the top-selling such devices is the Electric Saver 1200, an affordable and easy-to-install device that boasts up to 25% savings on electric bills. By correcting the “power factor” (a term used to describe how effectively an appliance or device uses the electricity fed to it) these things can be made more efficient and use less energy overall.
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Solar Energy and Living “Off the Grid”
For some, the idea of using less fossil fuels isn’t enough. These people choose to live completely “off the grid,” meaning not tied-in to the electric company at all and relying on their own generation of electricity entirely. The main means of living off-the-grid is through the use of solar panels that are capable of generating enough electricity for their entire home. Solar panels can be costly to install and the electricity they generate tends to be a bit more expensive than that supplied by the power company. But for many, it is worthwhile because it means a more responsible energy is being used in their home.
Because solar energy is increasing in popularity, the same energy saving devices that have been available for those who use traditional means of electricity in their homes and businesses can now be integrated into off-the-grid set ups as well.
Special “smart” thermostats can be installed in homes powered by solar energy so that the solar energy being produced is used even more efficiently and saving the consumer money! In fact, even power factor correction devices can be installed at the load (meaning directly to the appliance which is being corrected) and result in more efficient use of the solar-generated electricity and greatly reduced waste of energy.
It is easier than ever to limit the use of fossil fuels in one’s everyday consumption of electricity. With so many devices geared toward improving efficiency, even for those who choose to live off-the-grid, it has never been more convenient to be energy-conscious.