Green Technologies & Tips for your Home
When we use green or renewable technologies to their full potential in our buildings, we significantly reduce our overall reliance on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels release the global warming gas carbon dioxide, as well as other damaging pollutants when they are burned. Using renewable ‘Green’ technologies, minimizes the cost to the environment, and reduces the monetary cost to householders of purchasing these fuels. However do bear in mind that these technologies will have a cost attached and the most suitable options are best calculated in terms of household requirements and ‘payback’, i.e. how quickly will the initial costs of the technology have been recovered through the savings made? There are a number of renewable energy options available to householders, a little more detail on each follows…
Solar energy technologies use the sun’s energy and light to provide heat, light, hot water, electricity, and even cooling, for homes, businesses, and industry.
The sun controls natural cycles such as wind and water flow, and also provides the energy needed to sustain life. In addition, technology has now provided us with ways to harness the sun’s energy in order to provide heat and light for our buildings.
Solar Hot Water
A solar collector device will capture the sun’s heat and transfer this energy to heat water, mainly for domestic use. If the building has a very low heat demand the solar collectors may be used for water and space heating. Domestic solar collectors can be in the form of Solar Panels (flat plate collectors) or Solar Tubes (evacuated tube collectors).
Overall efficiency varies according to the type and manufacturer of the collector used, and efficiency will affect the size / amount of area that the collectors will need to cover, i.e. more efficient panels will cover a smaller surface area.
Solar Electricity is a renewable energy technology , and is of the same practical benefit to domestic properties as electricity purchased from electricity suppliers. The most commonly used technology for producing solar electricity is solar photo voltaic (commonly known as Solar PV). This technology converts light energy to electricity. A semi-conductor absorbs the sunlight and creates an electrical charge. Silicon is the most common semiconductor used by PV cell manufacturers. Solar Electricity systems can be either ‘grid connected’ whereby the electricity produced is exported (sold) to the electricity grid, or ‘standalone’ whereby the electricity produced is used to power the property where it is produced directly.
Passive Solar Design
Passive solar design does not require the installation of any technology devices, and will look the same as a conventional home… indeed it may incur no extra cost at all. Just by changing the orientation of a house to south to capture the maximum sunlight, energy bills can be reduced by 10%. Passive ventilation and cooling techniques can also be used to make best use of natural cooling and save on ongoing ventilation costs.
Heat Pumps collect heat from the environment. This may be from the air, the ground or the water. They work particularly well with underfloor heating systems.
Heat pumps use a small amount of electricity to change the heat collected from the environment to a useful level for indoor heating. Installation costs are similar to those of a conventional heating system but running costs in the long run are much lower.
Residential heat pumps have an Energy Guide label, which displays the heat pump’s heating and cooling efficiency performance rating, comparing it to other available makes and models.
Energy travels in the wind and can be captured and converted to provide electricity. Wind energy provides a clean, sustainable renewable solution and can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels in generating electricity. There will always be wind; it is inexhaustible and renewable. A ‘wind energy converter’ is the term used for the device which converts the kinetic energy in wind to mechanical energy, and in turn to electrical energy i.e. a wind turbine. Wind turbines are available in various sizes from a number of wind turbine manufacturers, agents and developers.
The growth of clean wind energy is significant for American manufacturers — 70 percent of the equipment installed at U.S. wind farms last year came from domestic manufacturers.
Wood and Pellet Burning Appliances
Using wood fuel instead of peat, coal and gas to heat our homes is a sustainable choice, as wood is what is known as a ‘CO2 neutral’ fuel. This is because the amount of CO2 wood released during burning is equal to that which is absorbed during growth. Wood fuel also takes just 5-20 years to grow, whereas peat and coal were formed over hundreds of thousands of years.
Modern, highly efficient stoves and boilers make wood fuel a practical and sustainable option for today’s homes and lifestyles. Householders can now choose from a new generation of wood and pellet-burning appliances that are cleaner burning, more efficient, and powerful enough to heat many average-sized, modern homes.
When purchasing a wood burner for your home it is important to collect a correctly sized burner for the space to be heated. If the appliance is too big then fuel may be wasted. A reputable dealer can advise on the correct appliance to suit your needs.
Choosing the right Technology for you
For safety and to maximize efficiency, it is advisable to have a professional install your renewable technologies or appliances. A professional will carefully evaluate everything in terms of your space heating and hot water requirements and will help you to choose the best technology and the best payback option on your system.