So, there you are, right in the middle of fixing dinner or watching your favorite television program and the power cuts out. We’ve all been there: a blown transformer, inclement weather, or maybe some punk- kid too busy texting to watch the road takes out a telephone pole. Now, you’re in the dark. Grumbling, we dig out the flashlight or maybe light some candles and wait. Usually, the power company has us back to normal in no time but…what if it didn’t come back? Sure, gasoline powered generators can generally get you by for a short time; assuming you already have gasoline, that is. You can’t assume you’ll be able to get the fuel you’ll need at the last minute. A few years ago, flat line winds (derecho) and microbursts wiped out the power in my neck of the woods. Thousands were without power for weeks but all local gas stations were bone dry within 48 hours. So, let’s look at some alternative energy options. No, I don’t mean making a potato battery although that’s always a fun project for the kiddies.
- Solar Power: Now, more than ever, people are looking for clean and sustainable forms of energy and solar power invariably tops the list. It is the one source of energy that nearly everyone can access. Some regions are better suited to maximize the sun’s power but essentially it’s there for the taking. The main deterrent; however, is the start up cost. Though the prices are dropping as solar energy is becoming more mainstream; to power an entire home, in the manner we’ve grown accustomed, is staggering. On the plus side, you can start small and build it piecemeal.
- Electromagnetic Induction: Don’t let the technical term throw you. Essentially, we’re talking about harnessing the power from wind or, if you’re using running water, you might have heard it called hydroelectric power. Both require a generator that converts kinetic energy by using a turbine that rotates magnets around an electrical coil. The obvious hindrance here is related to your environment. The minimum wind speed to produce adequate electricity is generally considered to be ten miles per hour on the average. Surprisingly, if you happen to have a stream running on your property, the power generated from running water is, on the average, greater than harnessing wind. Of course, if you do not have a form of naturally running water on your property; you are out of luck. After considerable research, I’ve concluded that electromagnetic energy would be best coupled with at least one other type of power.
- Human Powered Generators: These can be in the form of hand-cranking or even attaching a stationary bike to the generator. The negative side to this form of power is obvious but, as a supplement to additional generators, there are certainly benefits to reap. In addition to its simplicity, it is also excellent exercise. We all know the importance of cardiovascular exercise and maintaining a healthy heart. It’s clean energy with healthful side-effects.
When considering the possibility of embracing alternative energy for your home, be prepared for sticker shock. Not even the promise of ongoing rewards and huge tax deductions help to deaden the initial sting. Take a couple of deep breaths, spend a little time with your trusty calculator and remember; you don’t have to do it all at one time. As you start implementing pieces of the grand puzzle it is important to take an honest inventory of your energy consumption. Most electric companies will provide you with a monthly breakdown of your household’s usage.
Let’s be honest, we are all guilty of taking advantage of the convenience of flipping on a switch and utilizing the seemingly endless supply of electricity; that is, until it is not available. Learning to conserve, while slowly implementing alternative energy options, will help you make the adjustment when/if there is no back up from the local power company. In the meantime, why not check out this link on how to make a potato battery http://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-Potato-Battery
so that you will have something fun to do with the kids the next time your power goes out.