Thursday, January 17, 2008

Alternative energy, electrical and otherwise

Another topic that is of interest to me as a would-be homesteader is alternative energy. Many will say that plants, that store energy from the sun, are our greatest sources of renewable energy. After all, people burned wood as fuel long before the explosion of the oil market.

When one thinks of solar power, one's mind probably first turns to photovoltaic cells, or solar panels, which stores the suns energy as electricity in batteries for later use. Photovoltaics aside, however, there are still many ways of harnessing the sun for filtering water, heating water, drying food and passively heating one's home. A Trombe wall, for example, utilizes a south facing window--which will receive sunlight almost all day as the sun moves from east to west--and a thermal mass to trap heat during the daylight hours and then let it out at night to keep your house warm. Books that I've read that give a good break down of using solar energy both actively and passively include John Seymour's The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It and Robert Ristinen's Energy and the Environment. Other books I'm interested on reading on the topic of alternative energy include The Homeowner's Guide to Renewable Energy: Achieving Energy Independence Through Solar, Wind, Biomass And Hydropower (Mother Earth News Wiser Living) and The Renewable Energy Handbook: A Guide to Rural Energy Independence, Off-grid And Sustainable Living, which addresses people who live in rural areas and would like to provide all of their own energy.

In my particular location, I would probably have a wood stove for heating and cooking (as well as an earthen oven, which I'll cover in a different post), and then a combination of wind and solar would provide whatever electricity I still needed. Firstlook is a neat web app that estimates your wind and solar energy potentials, but there are professionals that can give you an assessment of your power need and potential. And in most places, if you have a surplus of electricity, you can sell it to the power company. Wind turbines are sold in kits for the real DIYer, or can also be installed by a local company, which is probably best for those of us that aren't electricians.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...