My involvement with renewable energy began one year ago when I installed the first solar photovoltaic panel on my roof. This year I’ve been able to reduce my use of utility-supplied electricity and natural gas, and I’ve benefited from my alternative heat and electricity sources during two lengthy power outages. In addition to lowering my electric and natural gas bills, I also contribute less to global warming. In other words, I’m moving closer to a carbon-neutral lifestyle. It is also good to know that I’m using less of the earth’s irreplaceable natural resources.
This is a summary of my accomplishments in my first year:
- I've replaced most of the incandescent bulbs in my home with compact fluorescent (cf) types.
- I've installed a small off-grid solar photovoltaic system, and have upgraded it several times. While the system offsets only a small portion of the utility-supplied electricity, it also serves as an emergency source of power. Recently, when an ice storm caused an extended power outage, the system was used to help heat my home as well as to supply electricity for lighting, cooking, and communications. It also provided a portion of the electrical requirements for a chest freezer, preventing food from spoiling.
- I've installed a corn-burning stove, and am using it to reduce my use of natural gas for heating. As a result, I've lowered my heating costs, and was able to keep my home warm during a recent extended power outage.
- I've replaced several windows in my home with energy-saving ones.
- I've replaced an older TV with an energy-efficient flat-panel one.
- I've removed many of the phantom loads in my home.
- I've converted an attached garage to a family room. This project included the addition of insulation, and the replacement of a garage door with an energy-efficient bay window. This room is a work-in-progress.
As I continue to add to the PV system, my savings will continue to increase. Because my electricity provider plans large rate increases over the next few years, I expect bigger savings in the future. At some point in the not-too-distant future, everyone will need to reduce their carbon emissions if this planet is to survive. It’s a good feeling to be in the forefront of this effort, and I look forward to continuing this important work. It’s the right thing to do.