Tips on Utilizing Multiple Renewable Energy Sources for One Home
In 2021, the Biden administration released a long-term strategy outlining a key objective: for the U.S. to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.1 This goal is ambitious but attainable. American citizens can drive change by incorporating renewable energy sources into their homes.
Many homeowners believe they can only power their homes using one renewable energy source at a time. Fortunately, this isn’t the case. In fact, with modern advancements in technology, American homeowners can now use several energy-efficient renewable sources at once.
As combining renewables gains popularity, many homeowners are witnessing the economic and environmental benefits of incorporating multiple green energy sources into their homes. At SunPower, we aim to be at the forefront of the shift to renewable energy. As one of America’s leading providers of high-efficiency solar solutions, we are committed to supporting America’s homeowners with first-class solar services, helpful guidance, and impartial advice.
Combining multiple renewable energy sources at home can be tricky. The best choices typically depend on your location, climate, budget, and electricity consumption. In this article, we’ll shed some light on the different renewable energy options available and give some tips for combining them to achieve greater energy independence at home.
Which renewable energy sources are available for the home?
Before we explore the best ways to combine renewable energy sources, let’s first discuss five key renewable energy sources that work well in home settings.
1. Solar energy
Solar has emerged as the most popular clean energy source in recent years, and for good reason. According to statistics reported by the IEEE, a single acre of zero-emission solar power saves between 121 to 138 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. Additionally, President Biden recently signed into law a 30% solar photovoltaics federal tax credit to encourage solar power usage.*SunPower does not warrant, guarantee or otherwise advise its customers about specific tax outcomes. Consult your tax advisor regarding the solar tax credit and how it applies to your specific circumstances.
Solar panels absorb sunlight and transform it into electricity. You can then use this electricity to power your home. Solar energy can warm your house, power your appliances and electronics, and charge your car. Add a solar water heater, and you can enjoy clean-energy-powered hot showers too. Solar power is the key to reducing your monthly electricity bills and helping to reduce your carbon footprint.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to hold out for a sunny day to generate solar power. Solar panels can produce electricity during most daylight hours, even when it’s cloudy. You can then store excess electricity in batteries to power your home when the sun goes down. In some locations, you can sell excess solar power back to the grid, saving even more money while doing your part for environmental conservation.
2. Wind energy
Wind turbines aren’t limited to big corporations and giant agricultural spaces. Provided you live in a windy area, harnessing wind electricity is a powerful way to generate clean, sustainable power for your home all year round.
Wind turbines can be a cost-effective long-term investment for homes of all sizes. The Department of Energy estimates that a small electric wind turbine could lower electricity costs by 50% to 90% annually. If you live in a remote area, wind power can also help you avoid the high costs of extending utility power lines to your home.
3. Geothermal energy
This green energy solution harnesses the natural heat stored beneath the Earth's surface, turning it into energy that helps you control your home's temperature.
When it's time to install your geothermal system, a specialist will bury pipes underground beneath your house. These pipes circulate fluid which absorbs heat from the surrounding Earth. The pipes then transfer this fluid toward geothermal heat pumps located within your home. The pump draws heat from the fluid, using it to heat your home in the winter and cool it in the summer.
4. Hydroelectric energy
If you live near a river or stream, consider hydroelectric energy as your next long-term energy-saving investment.
Like wind turbines, hydro systems harness an external force to power a generator. In this case, the flow from a body of water generates kinetic energy, which then converts to electricity that you can use to power your home. Hydroelectric systems are an excellent option for those living in remote locations as they generate power 24 hours a day.
5. Biomass energy
Biomass renewable energy refers to the power generated from waste matter, such as wood trimmings, animal waste, and plant waste. Burning these waste matters releases heat, which you can use to heat your home via a wood-burning or pellet stove. You can also use biomass to produce electricity with a biomass boiler.
Can you combine multiple renewable energy sources?
Combining multiple renewable energy options is both possible and encouraged. Implementing several renewable sources within your home can bring additional benefits you usually can't achieve with a single energy supply. Let's explore some of these perks in more detail.
Increased energy output: The more renewable energy sources you have, the more power you supply to your home. Depending on your location, one renewable energy source may not be enough to sustain the electricity demands of an entire household. Combining renewable energy sources gives you peace of mind that you’ll always have enough power stored away for all eventualities.
Reduced reliance on one energy source: Many renewable energy sources depend on your location and climate to operate efficiently. Diversifying your energy sources allows you to utilize the benefits of multiple power supplies at once. For example, solar energy can generate energy on days when there's no wind, and wind can generate energy even when it's dark. Hybrid energy sources work in tandem to provide more continuous power.
Improved reliability: Utilizing multiple renewable energy sources means you're more prepared for everything life throws at you. From extreme weather to local grid outages, an unexpected event can wreak havoc on your grid power system. Using multiple energy sources means you have a backup electricity plan when things go wrong.
What are the best renewable energy combinations for your home?
Combining renewable energy sources at home can be challenging, especially when you meet the criteria for more than one renewable source.
When deciding the combination of renewables that is best for you, consider your location, how much energy you use, and the climate you live in. Different environments suit different renewables. Let's explore the options available to you and which combinations work best.
Solar energy: For most people in America, solar energy is the most affordable and reliable way to power a home. Unlike many other renewable energy sources, solar power isn't location dependent. You can generate electricity if your solar panels receive adequate light daily. The accessibility of solar also means it combines well with all other energy sources. Solar, wind, and hydroelectric systems generate power by harnessing different elements. Your panels can generate power when there’s no breeze, and your wind and hydroelectric systems work through the night. Solar power is a great place to start for a non-obstructive, low-maintenance way to begin building your hybrid renewable energy system.
Wind energy: If your home is in a particularly windy area, utilizing wind energy can be a cost-effective, efficient way to power your home all year round. Wind turbines work best in rural locations with lots of open space, excellently combining solar and hydroelectric systems. That said, wind energy may be inconsistent and unreliable for those that don't live in an area with an average wind speed of at least 14 mph.
Hydroelectric power: Hydroelectric power, like wind energy, largely depends on location. If you live near a running body of water, harnessing hydroelectric power can be a reliable and sustainable way to power your home. As hydroelectric systems are best suited to those living in rural areas, hydroelectricity combines brilliantly with wind turbines and solar panels. However, the lack of suitable locations, high upfront costs, and need for planning permission mean that renewable hydroelectric energy may be inaccessible to many Americans.
Geothermal systems: Geothermal systems may be a durable, efficient option if you live in a rural, spacious area. Consider combining geothermal with solar energy to generate heat in the colder months when your panels are less effective.
Biomass: Biomass can be a great supplement to other renewable energy options but shouldn't be relied upon to power an entire home due to limited availability, seasonal variations, and scalability issues. Like geothermal systems, biomass can work as a supplement to solar panels by generating heat during periods of low light.
How do you combine multiple renewable energy sources?
Combining several renewable energy options doesn't have to be complex. With some forethought and careful consideration, you can design and implement a well-organized renewable system that saves you money on your monthly electricity bills while reducing your carbon footprint.
Pick the right combination of renewable energy sources
There is no right or wrong combination of renewable energy sources. The choice you make will depend on factors unique to you and your home. Consider these elements when making your decision:
Understand your energy needs: Start by calculating how much electricity you use on a monthly basis. An energy assessment can provide valuable insights into your consumption patterns, allowing you to make a well-informed decision about which renewable energy sources are the best match for how your family consumes electricity’.
Identify a renewable energy source that suits your needs: Research the renewable energy sources available in your area and assess their suitability for your home. An area with little wind is unlikely to benefit from a wind turbine, and a roof blocked by shade won’t capture much sun. Some renewable energy sources are also considerably more expensive than others. Choose the option that works for you, your home, and your budget.
Consider complementary renewable energy sources: Once you’ve identified your primary renewable energy source, consider complementary energy sources. An open, expansive area with high winds year-round is also likely to benefit from a lot of sun, making solar and wind an excellent combination. A small home with solar panels is also ideally sized to benefit from a small-scale biomass heating system. Pairing complementary renewable systems is the key to maximizing your energy efficiency.
Select the right professional installer for your hybrid renewable combination
A trusted, reliable professional installer should make combining multiple renewable energy sources hassle-free. Follow our tips to ensure you choose the right expert for the job.
Research and gather information: Begin by researching local renewable energy installers. Ensure they have a solid reputation, positive customer reviews, and a proven track record of successful installations.
Ask the right questions: When choosing your installers, ask questions to assess their credentials and understand what the installation will require. For example:
Are you certified to install this renewable energy source?
Will you evaluate my infrastructure before installation?
How long will the process take?
How much will the installation cost?
What warranties do you offer?
How will you address safety concerns?
How big will the system be?
How will this affect my electricity bills?
Compare installers: Now that you have an extensive list of potential installers, it’s time to compare them. Consider the experience and reputation of each installer. Compare prices and assess how long the job is expected to take.
Consider system design
Before you decide on the renewable energy sources you'd like to install, it's essential to consider how your system will integrate into your home.
Size requirements and setup processes: Consider the size and complexity of the system you will install. Some renewable options are less intrusive than others. Assess how much space you will need and ask yourself whether you'd be comfortable with a lengthy installation process.
Other installation factors: Consider other important factors affecting your installation, such as installation and maintenance costs. If you already have one renewable energy source, assess how effectively a new energy option will integrate with your existing setup.
Safety issues: Finally, always consider safety for you and your installer. Being aware of potential hurdles means you're always prepared to overcome them when it's time for installation.
Getting the most out of multiple renewable energy sources
Once you have a multi-renewable set up in your home, it's time to start reaping the benefits. Here are some of our top tips to help you get the most out of your hybrid renewable energy system.
Monitor system performance: Keeping track of your energy system’s performance gives you peace of mind that your renewable sources work as intended. Monitoring tools and software, such as the mySunPower® app, make it easier to keep track of your energy use and take proactive measures to maximize your energy production.
Invest in energy storage: Battery storage technology, such as SunPower’s SunVault® storage, optimizes your energy use by enabling you to store excess power during peak production times for use during power outages and weather changes.
Take advantage of incentives: Federal, state, and local governments often offer incentives and rebates to homeowners who install renewable energy sources*Tax credits subject to change. SunPower does not warrant, guarantee or otherwise advise its partners or customers about specific tax outcomes. Consult your tax advisor regarding the solar tax credit and how it applies to your specific circumstances. Please visit the dsireusa.org website for detailed solar policy information.. Research and stay current on new legislation, both federal and local, that could allow you to claim other credits and rebates on renewable energy purchases. Doing so can help you maximize the economic benefits of your investment.
Harness the power of multiple renewable energy sources today
With proven environmental benefits, massive cost savings, and increased resilience to unexpected events, the perks of a hybrid renewable energy system are undisputed. Take charge of your energy consumption and reduce your carbon footprint by incorporating a hybrid renewable energy system into your home today.
America’s goal for a net-zero 2050 depends on the choices of its citizens. We as a nation have the power to push toward a greener tomorrow. Every renewable energy decision is a contribution to a sustainable future.
Ready to learn more about how you can power your home with clean, renewable solar energy?
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FAQs - Tips on utilizing multiple renewable energy sources for one home
What is the cost of combining renewable energy sources in one home?
The cost of combining renewable energy sources will depend on several factors, including the renewable options you choose, your location, and how much energy you use. Some renewable energy sources, like solar and wind, are generally more affordable to implement than complex geothermal and hydroelectric systems.
Is 100% renewable electricity possible?
Yes, 100% renewable energy is entirely possible at home. Combining multiple renewable power sources can allow you to support electricity generation for your entire home. The key is to choose several different energy sources and select the correct renewables for your area.
Can I still use traditional energy sources if I combine renewable energy sources?
Yes, you can still use traditional energy sources alongside multiple renewable energy sources. Sometimes, the right combination of renewables can eliminate the need for a conventional power provider. Relying entirely on renewable energy can help you maximize your savings and minimize your carbon footprint.
Will I need to store excess energy generated by renewable energy sources?
No, you don't have to store excess energy if you don't want to, but the benefits can certainly outweigh the cost. Storing excess renewable energy is your key to unlocking the full potential of multiple renewable energy sources by providing power when your renewables aren't working at their full potential. Plus, in some areas, you may be able to sell unused power back to the grid for greater savings.