Generating electricity at home has multiple benefits. In addition to securing your energy source and keeping the energy rates in check, it can save you a bundle or even better earn you money or credits. However, something that will appeal to the environmentalist in you is the chance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, and carbon footprint.
Let us see in detail the advantages and alternative ways of generating electricity at home available to you.
Why generate your own electricity at home?
If your home is in a remote location, far away from the grid, this is your only option for electricity. Even if the grid is accessible, you can opt to make electricity at home for many reasons.
Cost-effective: Generating your own electricity may be the cheaper option if your property has access to renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, or running water.
Instead of paying exorbitant rates for getting electricity from the grid, this is cost-effective in the long run. By choosing to produce your own electricity, you can insulate yourself from the ever-increasing energy rates.
Even in an urban setting, when you have easy access to the grid, you can make your own electricity to keep a check on the energy rates. Most regions allow net metering – an arrangement where you are allowed to send the excess energy generated to the grid for which you are compensated either as credit or cash.
Secure connection: As long as you are generating your own electricity, you will be unaffected by the grid failures or blackouts. These off the grid electricity systems give you independence from the grid and can come in handy in the event of natural calamities and civil emergencies.
Environment-friendly: Most of the grid energy is generated using fossil fuels that are polluting and damaging to the environment. On the other hand, almost all the ways to generate electricity at home are from renewable energy sources and hence not detrimental to the surroundings. By opting for this, you will be doing your bit to save our planet.
How to generate your own electricity?
Some of the options available for generating your own electricity at home are
- Micro hydroelectricity
- Diesel or biodiesel generators
All the above options except diesel generators are renewable and produce less/no greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. The choice is primarily based on the feasibility of each for generating power at your location. In case multiple options are available, you may make the decision based on their cost-effectiveness, reliability, and comparative effect on the environment. You may even consider the aesthetics of installing different systems, before taking the decision.
By connecting a battery to the home power generation system, it is possible to store electricity for later use. Instead, if you are connected to the grid, you may send the excess power generated to the grid for credit or cash.
When you are not generating enough power to meet your requirement, you may rely on the stored energy in the battery or use from the grid. In case both these options are not available, having a diesel generator will help, though it is not an environment-friendly choice.
You may interested to read article about Positive Environmental Impact of Solar Energy
Considered one of the most popular choices for domestic energy generation, solar power is produced by installing solar panels to capture the sun’s energy. The ideal location for solar panels is a slanting rooftop. The solar water heater uses natural energy directly to heat the water.
The main drawback of generating electricity from solar panels is its high upfront cost. However, the long lifespan of 20-25 years makes it an excellent option in the long run.
You may check this article about Why are Solar Panels So Expensive?
The cheapest of all renewable energy sources and the least polluting of them all, wind power is feasible only in locations with good wind speed. As wind turbines can share land space, it is a good choice for farms and ranches.
Its main disadvantages are sound pollution and high initial investment. Again, like solar energy, the lifetime of wind turbines is long and their return on investment is impressive.
Related: Negative Effects of Wind Turbines on the Environment
It is the organic waste that decomposes in the absence of oxygen to produce methane. Biogas or methane can be used to replace natural gas to generate electricity or directly used for heating or cooking.
Methane and carbon dioxide, a by-product of this process, are both greenhouse gases and can cause harm to the environment. By burning methane, you can bring down emissions.
For factories or big farms producing organic waste in large quantities, a biogas plant is an excellent choice to generate cheap electricity. The downside of biogas is that it requires regular maintenance and constant attention for smooth and efficient operation.
Micro hydel plants:
If your property has running water, you can tap into the alternative energy to generate cheap electricity. All you need to do is allow the flowing water to turn a small turbine to produce electricity. More reliable and cheaper than solar or wind, micro hydel plants can generate electricity as long as there is running water to turn the turbine.
In case your property lies along the fault lines and you can tap into the extensive heat energy trapped underground, geothermal energy is an excellent choice for producing electricity as well as direct heating needs. A geothermal pump uses a closed loop of pipes to pump in fluids to bring up the heat buried deep inside the earth. The heat is transferred using a heat exchanger to heat your home or turn water into steam to turn the turbine and generate electricity.
It is a popular choice for energy generation in remote locations. Though easy to use and cheap, diesel generators are not a good choice for round-the-clock power supply. The reasons are many. Sound pollution, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and high maintenance cost are just some of its drawbacks.
Though not a good choice for permanent electricity generation, diesel generators may be used as a back-up option in combination with one of the above-mentioned renewable energy choices.
Most of the limitations and harmful effects of a diesel generator can be eliminated by using biodiesel instead of diesel, a fossil fuel.
Installing a home electricity generation device is expensive – the higher the capacity of the unit, the more expensive. This means it is not recommended to install a system that generates more electricity than you need. Of course, you can sell the excess energy generated to the grid, but this is advisable only if you end up with excess energy by chance, not by purpose.
To ensure the most cost-effective system to generate electricity at home, you need to make sure all your electrical installations are energy-efficient and working well, and your home is well-insulated.