Green! Sustainable! Energy Efficient! These are the words and phrases we see time and again in our home improvement stores. The environmentally conscious world we live in makes earth friendly green products desirable. The marketers know this and are sure to slap green and sustainable labels on everything as often as possible. Certainly, understanding the effect one has on the environment is a good thing. Conserving resources is a responsibility we all have. Plus, energy efficiency can save you money in monthly bills. Caveat Emptor. Let the green buyer beware. How can we sift through the propaganda and glittering generalities and find out what’s real and important?
The wide-angle-lens, big picture view makes more sense when thinking about solar power systems. In the short term, the cost of installing a solar system can be high, especially if you hire someone else to do it for you. The return is guaranteed, though, unless the sun burns out, in which case we will have bigger concerns than our investments.
What is sustainable living? It’s living more simply where “simply” may be defined as “regular” or “unpretentious”. It does not, however, means that you go pack your backpack and tent and go live in the woods and be a hermit. It does not mean you stop eating meat and go vegetarian. It does not mean you forgo of the finer things in life and sulk for the rest of your natural existence. In plain words, living more simply is doing without the unnecessary clutter that you constantly surround yourself.
There is just no question that our destiny will include a majority of renewable energy. We could include here a big, long list of renewable and power technologies that we can utilize. But the important thing to remember is that all of us are going to have to find our way with products that suit us and our lifestyle. The desert does not have the same needs and resources as the beach. Or the deep south with its great heat. The north with its terribly severe winters. Not a great deal of similarity between the needs of those places.
The sun is located in the center of the solar system we call home. Energy from the sun radiates out from the center warming the planets in varying degrees relative to their distance from it.
Unless you have a free-flowing stream on your property, you can rule out hydropower. And nuclear energy, though it doesn’t use carbon-based fuel, has major waste disposal and other issues.
It is often presumed that self-sufficiency in energy is only for nerds, but this is not true, it is now within the reach of every family or household. If you have lots of money, a solar or wind powered system will cost you about $45,000 and it will take about ten years to recover your investment by getting off the grid. However, you can have the same apparatus for much less than half that amount.
Both of these methods of extracting energy are now well established and out of consciousness. They are listed as either “other” or “alternative” in most breakdowns of total power generation by energy type.