With fossil fuels dwindling, more people are looking to make the switch to renewable energy systems. Buildings consume 40% of our energy and will see an energy transformation in the coming years, and renewable energy has a role to play in this transformation
Are you ready to implement a residential renewable energy system? How much one costs and which works best will depend on the region where you live.
Geothermal heat pumps are ideal for areas with cold climates since the subsurface temperature rarely changes despite the weather outside a home. Any location in the north that gets snowfall or ice can get heating in the winter more cheaply than with a fossil fuel furnace.
A geothermal system can cost anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000 depending on the size, soil conditions, accessibility and the amount of digging required. However, you can typically recoup these costs in four to 15 years.
While homes in the east can invest in solar energy, they may see reduced efficiency due to lack of sunlight or harsh weather. Eastern states with the lowest solar prices include Maryland, North Carolina, Maine and Delaware. In the First State, for instance, solar costs $2.87 per watt, with a six kw system ranging from $12,343 to $13,142.
East of the Mississippi, New York has the most hydroelectric generating capacity of any state. Those who want to install their own systems must have access to a running water source, such as a stream or river. With the right location, they can expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000, depending on the amount of energy needed, and the distance between the intake and turbine.
As most of the midwest experiences harsh winters, many homes can benefit from a geothermal heating system. The components typically last 25 years — compared to 15 for a standard furnace — and require minimal maintenance.
The midwest is home to many open plans and rounded hills, too, making it an excellent candidate for wind power. While most consumers can’t install their own turbines, they can connect to sustainable energy providers. With turbines getting cheaper, bigger and more efficient, it’s possible to purchase this type of energy for a mere two cents per kilowatt-hour. In comparison, the average consumer in the U.S. pays around 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Many areas in the southern midwest can also benefit from the installation of solar panels. In Texas, for instance, the cost per watt is $2.79, with a six kw system averaging between $11,189 and $13,586.
The most active geothermal resources are typically found along major tectonic plate boundaries, making western states, including Hawaii, top spots for geothermal power plants. California is currently one of the biggest producers of electricity generated from geothermal energy.
Many states in the west can also take advantage of solar power, with Washington offering the cheapest cost per watt in the country at $2.69. A six kw system costs an average of $10,256 to $13,631. Oregon’s prices aren’t far behind, with a cost per watt of $2.80.
Currently, the west is home to some of the top hydropower producers, including Washington, Nevada, Oregon and Hawaii. In fact, Washington makes up 27% of all hydroelectricity generation in the United States. If maintained correctly, a hydro system can last anywhere from 25 to 100 years.
Southern states are ideal for solar energy because they experience a lot of sunshine. Some areas, including California, Nevada and Arizona, also see less adverse weather, such as rain. Over the past five years, the price of solar has fallen more than 20%, and the average cost after tax credits is $13,142.
Florida currently offers the lowest solar prices in the south, with a cost per watt of $2.72. As a result, a six kw system ranges between $10,656 and $13,498. Arizona comes in a close second, with a cost per watt of $2.76.
Coastal areas in the south can also take advantage of wind power. Many companies install turbines off of shorelines to take advantage of the faster wind speeds.
Your Complete Guide to Renewable Energy
Keep in mind that all prices listed here are estimates based on previous purchases and government credits. If you plan to install a system, get quotes from multiple providers, and compare your options to ensure maximum renewable energy affordability
Installing renewable power is an excellent way to ensure your home stands the test of time. While fossil fuels will eventually run dry, energy sources like solar, hydro, geothermal and wind are entirely sustainable.
Bio: Emily is a sustainability writer who is the creator of Conservation Folks.