Remodeling Tips and Reviews

Green Energy

Energy is a major concern with homes and businesses.

Green Kitchens

To qualify as green in the energy area a property must reduce its reliance on the energy grid. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. The least expensive way is to install high energy efficiency appliances, lights and air conditioning. This can easily cut a buildings reliance on the grid by 30% or more.

Installing insulation or adding more can reduce a buildings heat loss or gain and therefore reduce the need for air conditioning. Minimum standards require an R30 in the ceilngs and r13 for the exterior walls. But for real energy savings an R45 or R60 is desirable.

To achieve a net zero grid energy consumption a building would have to install solar panels. These panels would draw energy from the sun during the day and sell any surplus to the utilities. At night the building would simply pull energy from the grid when needs are much lower.

Green Energy and the grid

Green energy is all the rage today. But the real question is exactly what is green energy? The goal of green energy is to generate energy naturally with very little pollution. Some examples of this are geothermal power, wind power, hydropower, solar power, biomass power, tidal power and wave power. Many of these types of energy generation are experimental, not cost effective and not available to consumers.

There are two types of green energy that are available to consumers. Solar Energy and Wind Power. Both are expensive to implement and both have advantages and disadvantages. If you happen to live in one of the few states offering rebates and tax incentives then you can reduce your cost. These incentives can offset the cost of installation in a renewable energy system. Individuals are then drawing energy produced from a green energy source that they control. Once the system is paid for, the owner of a renewable energy system will be producing their own renewable electricity for essentially no cost and can sell the excess to the local utility at a profit.

Solar Energy

Sunlight can be converted into electricity using photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar power (CSP), and various experimental technologies

The major disadvantages of solar energy are:

  • The amount of sunlight that arrives at the earth’s surface is not constant. It depends on location, time of day, time of year, and weather conditions
  • Because the sun doesn’t deliver that much energy to any one place at any one time, a large surface area is required to collect the energy at a useful rate.

The photovoltaic cell is the basic building block of a photovoltaic system. Individual cells are usually around 4 inches across. However, one solar cell only produces around 2 watts, which isn’t enough power for most applications. To create enough power to run a house cells are connected inside a packaged weather-tight module which looks like a picture frame. Many of these panels can generate around 80-100 watts. These panels can be further connected to form an array. The number of modules connected together in an array depends on the amount of power output needed.

Some advantages of photovoltaic systems are:

Green Kitchens
  • Conversion from sunlight to electricity is direct, thus mechanical generator systems are unnecessary.
  • Solar Panel Arrays can be easily placed on almost any building roof as long as adequate sun light is available. Making them ideal for city installations.
  • PV arrays can be installed quickly and in any size required or allowed.
  • The environmental impact is minimal, requiring no water for system cooling and generating no by-products.

Photovoltaic cells generate direct current (DC), which is generally used for small loads such as electronic equipment or flashlights. When DC from photovoltaic cells is used for commercial applications or sold to electric utilities using the electric grid, it must be converted to alternating current (AC) using inverters, solid state devices that convert DC power to AC.

Wind Power

Wind Power is a promising green energy option but more limited in its possibilities. A large wind turbine draws energy from the wind which spins a generator in the turbine and creates electricity. A large scale turbine can be as tall as 600 feet and can generate as much as 6 megawatts (MW).
The issue with Wind Power is that in order for it to be viable many towers at a large cost must be installed. This creates a questionable view on the landscape and requires large open spaces. They are also dependent on the wind so must be installed in areas where wind conditions are ideal and constant. But they are still considerably greener than any other normal energy generation.