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Renewable Energy
for Your Home and Property
Renewable Energy: The Infinite Power of Texas


As home and property owners, there are several ways we can integrate renewable energy into our everyday lives:

Generate Your Own Energy
A direct way of using renewable energy is to install renewable energy generating equipment like solar panels or small wind turbines. These systems can be cost-effective, particularly in rural areas where the only alternative is extending long electric distribution lines to serve the house or another small load. Many Texas ranchers use solar panels to pump water in a cost-effective manner. Others choose to augment their existing utility power with solar panels; in this arrangement, they reduce their electric bill by generating a portion of their own power needs. Solar water heaters are another great technology that is vastly underused in Texas. While these devices don't generate electricity, they do reduce the need for electricity or gas for your water heater. Solar water heaters can provide 50-80% of the hot water needs for typical homes and businesses in Texas. Here are some materials to get you started:

Design for Renewable Energy
When building a new home or remodeling an existing one, pay attention to details such as passive solar design (taking advantage of the sun's ability to heat the house in winter simply by proper house orientation and window sizing), roof overhangs (which can be designed to keep the sunlight out in summer and let it shine in during the winter), daylighting (allowing the sun to provide much of the home's lighting needs during the day), and other factors. Here are some materials that can get  you started.

Make the Most of the Sun and Wind
Often, we can use readily available renewable energy to accomplish tasks that we've grown accustomed to completing with electric or gas power. For example, we can reduce our reliance on electricity and other fuels by trying our hand at solar cooking, drying our clothes outside, even using the sun's energy to make tea! Here are some ideas to get you started.

Buy Green Power
If you live in an area where you have a choice of electricity providers, choose a provider that emphasizes their commitment to renewable energy. All electricity companies competing in Texas are required to disclose information about how the power they are selling you is generated via a content label (which looks something like the nutrition labels found on many foods). You can use these content labels to compare power offerings from competing electricity providers.

If you live in an area where you don't have a choice of your electricity supplier (for example, if you are served by a municipal utility or rural electric cooperative that hasn't opted into competition) you may still be able to purchase a green power option from your existing supplier. Many utilities, including those in Austin and San Antonio, are offering more than one choice to their customers. Ask your electric company if they offer, or plan to offer, a green power option.

Make Your Home Energy Efficient
One of the most important benefits of renewable energy is that it generates electricity with little or no pollution. We can also reduce pollution by simply reducing our own energy requirements by conserving energy and making our homes more efficient. Examples of energy conservation measures are turning the lights off when we leave the room and installing programmable thermostats so we don't unnecessarily heat or cool our homes while we're not there.

 
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This page has been selected as one of the best on the Internet by science educators under the SciLinks program sponsored by the National Science Teachers Association
 
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