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7 Steps to an Energy-Efficient House: 7. Renewable Energy

Add renewable-energy equipment

Renewable energy is expensive energy. It costs much less to lower energy consumption through efficiency improvements than it does to produce energy with a photovoltaic array or a wind turbine.
Image Credit: Steven Strong

Editor’s introduction: With energy prices rising again, many homeowners are planning energy-efficiency improvements to their homes. But most people are unsure of where to begin, and even seasoned builders don’t always know which priorities should rise to the top of the list. Betsy Pettit, an architect at Building Science Corporation
, recommends starting where you can get the most bang for the buck.

Step 7: Install renewable-energy equipment

Once your energy consumption has been reduced significantly, it may be reasonable to produce your own energy with a photovoltaic system, wind turbine, or even a small hydro system (if you happen to have a stream nearby). Energy-efficiency improvements yield a faster return on your investment than renewable energy equipment, though — so until you slash your energy use, it makes no sense to invest in photovoltaics or wind. Conservation is still the cheapest game in town.

This article is adapted from Betsy Pettit’s Remodeling for Energy Efficiency
in Fine Homebuilding


In Green Basics:

Photovoltaic Power

Wind-Generated Power

In Product Guide

Renewable Energy Equipment

Photovoltaic Equipment

Wind Energy Equipment

In Strategies and Details

Consider a Wind Turbine

In Blogs:

Green Building Myth: Adding Solar Is the Best Way to Green a Home

Generating Electricity From the Sun

Tax Credits for Solar Energy Systems

Thinking About Net Zero Energy

Backyard Wind Turbines

Resisting the Allure of Small Wind Turbines

Home Wind Power

Equipment Versus Envelope

In Green Homes:

1970s Home Goes Net Zero

Energy Comes from the Sun, Wind, and Earth in This Vermont Home

This Green Garage is a Powerhouse

In News:

U.K. Builder: Airtight Construction Trumps Renewable-Energy Add-ons


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