If you’re going to jump on the sustainable energy bandwagon — it should be right now. The electricity generated by renewable sources in the United States doubled from 2008 to 2018, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Almost 90% of the growth came from wind and solar. Among the two, wind generation saw the most gains, generating over 275 million Megawatt hours (MWh) in 2018, from just 55 million MWh back in 2008.
Not only is sustainable energy more widespread, but it’s also more affordable. A recent study by the Energy Innovation: Policy & Technology found that over 75% of coal-produced energy is more expensive than renewable options. The authors, who analyzed data from the EIA and public financial records, stated that the rise in coal energy prices was because of the growing maintenance and operation costs of plants.
At roughly the same time, electricity from renewable sources was on a descent. According to the International Monetary Fund’s April 2019 World Economic Outlook, prices for solar panels dropped by 76% from 2009 to 2017. Wind turbine prices, on the other hand, had a 34% decrease in the same timespan. Though it may be the perfect time to make the switch, you need to ensure that your home is ready for sustainable energy.
The Right Source
While wind and solar are both great choices, one is more efficient than the other in certain areas. A recent report by Vox found that wind energy isn’t as popular in southeastern states like Alabama, Florida, and Virginia. This is because they have the lowest wind speeds (less than 4.0 meters to 6.0 meters per second) compared to states in the Great Plains like Kansas and Nebraska, with speeds of over 7.0 meters per second.
It may be better to get solar if you live in Florida. With its policies starting to favor renewable energy, it can truly live up to its moniker as the sunshine state. And besides the aforementioned Great Plains states, wind energy may be a great choice for those living in Arizona, as wind farms are being constructed in areas like Navajo County.
All the Codes
Once you choose a source and provider for your system, ask the representative to help you out with obtaining a permit. Your project may need to adhere to strict building codes to be approved. But the Department of Energy says that inspectors often provide approval as long as your energy provider follows the National Electrical Code (NEC) standards.
One highlight of the NEC for wind power is when installing a system that’s off the grid, it should come with a surge protective device. The NEC recently revised its solar energy standards in 2017 regarding rapid shutdown and grounding. You should always check with your contractor if the equipment and techniques they’re using are up to code.
Get an Energy Audit
Before choosing an energy plan, you should know how much electricity your appliances are consuming every month or year. This way, you can determine the size of your system. Use the Department of Energy’s Appliance Energy Calculator to gauge every device’s energy use. Discuss them with your provider. Try to root out the appliances you use sparingly to possibly reduce the size and cost of your renewable energy package.
With the rising costs of coal and the falling prices of solar and wind power, it only makes sense to make the renewable switch. However, you should prepare your home and budget before you pick a package. Should you find that it is too expensive to install those solar panels, you can always switch to a green energy provider, which generally offers cheaper electricity rates than regular electricity providers. There are plenty of green energy providers to choose from these days, so it’s best to use an energy comparison site like Electricityrates to ensure you are getting the best deal.