Most people know by now that there are all sorts of ways to reduce energy bills. Insulation, double glazing, smart appliances and simply knowing when to put on a jumper can all help. But how is it that some people manage to pay nothing at all? Is it really possible, in an ordinary home, to generate directly and sustainably all of the energy you need? You might be surprised.
A new generation of homes
Finding homes with this kind of potential is getting easier than ever as construction and development companies have cottoned on to the fact that there’s a big market for eco-friendly properties – and some, of course, share that wish to do the right thing as far as the environment is concerned. M1 Group, for instance, now routinely put eco-friendly systems in their new build properties, giving them added market appeal at the same time as standing by the principles of sustainability that have always influenced their way of doing business.
Many people assume that there’s no point in fitting solar panels if they live in northern climes, but with the new generation of solar materials now available, that’s no longer the case. Even when the days are short and there’s a lot of cloud, a single solar panel is often sufficient to create all the hot water an average family needs. This new technology is also a lot cheaper than the old technology because economies of scale have come into operation as more and more people have concluded that solar energy is the right choice for them.
You will need planning permission to install a wind turbine, but you can now buy good rooftop models for just a few hundred pounds, and if they’re well positioned – so as to get plenty of wind – they can generate impressive amounts of electricity. They’re ideal for remote locations where there are no neighbours to annoy and few other buildings blocking the flow of the wind. In places such as this, versions with masts can also be a practical option and are often more productive.
For people fortunate enough to live near a waterway, small-scale hydroelectricity generation can also be an option. People have been using waterwheels for thousands of years, but modern hydropower systems are highly efficient and can produce electricity for all your household needs. You will need to get a professional assessment to find out if it’s a practical solution for you.
Energy generation systems such as these can provide all the power that’s needed for some homes. They can also be used in combination. In some cases, the results are so impressive that householders can not only provide for their own needs but also sell electricity back to the grid. This means they make a bit of money, and a larger proportion of the overall energy used in the country comes from renewables, helping to reduce everybody’s carbon footprint. It’s a win-win situation.
Following on from our discussion in the NYK chat room regarding frugal entrepreneurs and long term investments, making the right choices at anytime can reap real rewards, in both money and self-sustainability terms. Frugaldom has vast potential for development of more eco-friendly projects than you can shake a stick at - and let's face it, we have plenty of those lying around the place. So what would you choose for your ideal self-sustainable, eco-friendly home? I know Frugaldom isn't home, but with today's technology, almost anywhere in the world has the potential to become self-sustainable on or off the grid, even Scotland could balance the energy books with the right mix of solar, wind and hydro, although we do seem to get more wind and rain than sun most years.
You can discuss this subject and many others at www.frugalforums.co.uk