If you're looking to make your home a more sustainable place, you might consider installing some sort of renewable energy generator. When it comes to green energy for your home, two of your options are solar panels and wind turbines.

Solar panels

One of the most common types of renewable energy generators that you can install is solar panels. With more and more government incentives, installing a solar system is getting cheaper.

The cost of installing solar panels is around $1,700-$2,500 per kilowatt. Most home systems generate between 1 and 5 kilowatts of energy, but you can produce more or less depending on how many panels can be installed. The amount of green energy produced by solar panels can vary greatly depending on the number of panels you have and the amount of sunlight available. However, you may be able to supply around 20 percent of your home's energy needs.

Guidelines for home solar panels

  • Your home's roof has good exposure to the southern sky
  • Your roof is large and flat enough for panels
  • Your neighborhood association allows solar panels
  • You're comfortable with the financial investment

Wind turbines

If you are really looking to go off the grid, wind turbines might be your answer. These fan-like structures convert the kinetic energy of the wind into a clean energy resource. While wind turbines are usually seen full scale in wind farms, there are manufacturers that make small wind turbines that are perfect for powering your home. These smaller scale turbines can range from 400 watts to 100 kilowatts of energy, depending on factors such as wind availability and turbine size. The cost of installing a wind turbine can range from $10,000 to $70,000. However, if you install one of these machines you could cut up to 90 percent of your energy bill, and with a lifespan of more than 20 years, the turbine will more than pay for itself in energy savings.

An important thing to note about wind turbines is height. Since winds speeds increase with height, turbines typically sit on a tall tower to take advantage of greater wind force and create more energy. While your turbine doesn't have to reach skyscraper heights, you generally will get more energy the taller it is.

Guidelines for home wind turbines

  • You're comfortable with a long-term investment
  • You live on 1 acre of land or more
  • Your local zoning codes allow wind turbines
  • Your property has good wind resources

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