Home Improvement With Alternative Energy Heating
The term alternative fuel describes wood, wood pellets, corn, wheat, rye and
other biomass materials as well as solar energy, wind power, and water for
micro-hydro or geothermal systems.
No matter which method of alternate heating or power you choose, they all
benefit to some degree from the energy efficiency tax credits. Solar, wind,
and geothermal systems all qualify for a generous 30% tax credit - including
the cost of installation.
In addition to the 30% Federal tax credit, many state and local agencies offer
incentives or rebates with the potential to increase your total savings by
20% or more.
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When you improve your home with alternative energy heating you will benefit
in three important ways:
1. Save thousands of dollars in heating and energy costs for years to come.
2. Improve the value of your home.
3. Get peace of mind from more predictable fuel and energy costs.
The key to a successful transition from fossil fuels to renewable resources is
determining which alternative fuel is most abundant where you live, and
therefore the cheapest.
Pellet and Corn Stoves
Wood pellet and corn stoves caught fire as home
heating alternatives in 2004 when the price of oil
crossed the $40 per barrel threshold and have
enjoyed rising popularity ever since.
During this time hundreds of thousands of pellet
burning stoves were sold displacing millions of
gallons of fossil fuel.
Wood pellet stoves remain a reliable home heating alternative due to the
relatively stable price of wood pellets and the availability of pellet stoves
for as little as $1,300. Depending on the cost of fuel oil, a pellet stove could
pay for itself in only 2 to 3 years
Solar Power and Solar Heating
The versatile solar panel can be configured to
harness solar energy for a variety of purposes.
Photovoltaic (PV) panels or solar roof shingles
are used to convert the sun's rays into
electricity. A professionally installed solar PV
system is now estimated at $5 per watt, or
$9,500 for a typical 2kW system.
Plus, home owners are still eligible for the 30% federal tax credit on the
installed price until 2016.
Solar panels for hot water systems are 2 to 3 times more efficient than solar
PV. A solar hot water system can be sized for domestic hot water only, or a
combination hot water/radiant heating system to satisfy the majority of your
home's heating needs.
Probably the most mysterious and least
understood of the alternative heating and
cooling options is geothermal.
Simply put, a geothermal system extracts
stored heat from beneath the earth's surface
and transfers it to your home for winter
heating - then reverses the process for
cooling by removing the heat from your home
and "sinking" it back into the ground.
At the heart of every geothermal system is the ground source heat pump. This
type of heat pump has an average efficiency of 300% which is 3 to 4 times more
fuel efficient than a conventional home furnace.
The extraordinary efficiency of a geothermal system offers a payback period of
only 5 to 6 years if you currently heat with oil.
Radiant Floor Heat
Radiant heat differs from forced hot air
in that it heats objects (flooring,
furniture, etc.) instead of the air.
This method takes longer to bring a
room up to temperature but provides
soothing, even, long lasting heat that
eliminates cold spots and keeps dust
and allergens to a minimum.
Today's radiant heating systems employ 95% efficient condensing boilers to
heat the water distributed via plastic tubing throughout the flooring.
Installation methods include embedding the tubing in cement or pre-grooved
modular panels; or suspending the tubing under the sub-floor between the
In a report issued by the U.S.
Department of Energy (DOE) in 2012,
68% of the wind turbines installed in the
United States over the past 10 years
were distributed wind systems - and the
market is growing.
Distributed wind systems replaces the old
"small wind" designation and now
includes commercial and industrial as well
as residential wind power systems.
According to Ron Stimmel, the small wind advocate at the American Wind
Energy Association, "It all depends on your wind resource to get a decent
payback. You need a little bit of land so you're not talking cities, but mostly
suburban and rural locations."
Many municipalities have height limitations on structures but turbines generally
perform well when they are 30 feet above any structures in a 500-foot radius.
In urban and suburban locations where physical limitations and zoning laws
prevent the installation of full fledged wind energy systems homeowners have
turned their attention to rooftop micro wind systems and home made wind
As with any other well designed major home improvement, an alternate heating
or energy system will add value to your home. For every $1 in annual energy
savings you'll add an average of $10 to the value of your home.