10 Most Affordable Alternative Energy Options

Reader Contribution by Joe Fortunato
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In the interest of saving money many non-green types have begun to explore alternative energy. Whether you are an environmentalist or not, it seems like everyone can appreciate what the green movement is doing for people’s wallets. Here are some of the most promising alternative sources around.

DIY: Home Energy Made Cheap

Here are a few of the most promising DIY projects for people hoping to save on home energy:

  • Insulated Wooden Fridge – This works about eight months a year.
  • Electric Lawn Mower – With a little rigging, a lawn mower can become gas-free.
  • Pedal Powered Generator – YouTube tutorials teach DIY gurus how to make this awesome tool.
  • Homemade Solar Panel – These panels are a great choice if you can’t afford the $200+ store-bought versions.

These projects and more can be found on Ecoble.

Solar Power

PRICE: About $9,000 per House ($6,000 After Federal Tax Break)

Federal tax credit on solar panels varies from state to state.

Image via Flickr by kateausburn

Solar, the process of capturing sun rays and transforming them into electricity, is a power that is being widely used already. Many people have solar panels on their homes, and many survivalists believe solar will bring them through a potential apocalypse. Because solar is so independent, it could keep houses alight during thunderstorms while every other one goes dark.

Harnessing Wind Power

PRICE: $1.3 Million+ per Farm ($50K+ to Power Each House)

Blowing turbine blades enough to generate electricity, wind is all natural and cheap to use. These wind turbines are built in large ‘farms’ that do not harm the environment. Also, wind is a totally renewable resource. However, this is not an alternative source to be considered by individuals.

Households can obtain small wind generators that provide some of their monthly energy for approximately $1,250.

Geothermal Energy

PRICE: $10.5 Million Average

Capturing the natural heat from within the planet creates geothermal energy by forcing it as steam into turbines. Those turbines can be used to power electric generators. It causes no harmful side effects, and is 100% natural.

Whereas traditional energy costs about $1,800+ per kilowatt hour, geothermal costs only $1,300+ for the same power. However, this is only after the initial setup cost has been covered by profits.

Hydroelectric Power

PRICE: $50 Million in 1930s ($690 Million Today)

Using either tidal power or dammed water run-off, hydroelectric power is obtained by forcing this natural source of energy through turbines and generators. Unlike other alternative sources like wind, water can be stored to use during times of lower flow. Yet, this is not as popular as other forms because hydroelectric dams are cost prohibitive. Individuals can build their own hydro systems, according to the book The Micro Hydro, but the cost is unknown.

While dams are incredibly expensive to build, and many conservation groups warn that dams cause damage to rivers and fish, many believe this is the cleanest, safest route to alternative energy.

The Ugly Step-Sisters of Alternative: Nuclear & Hydrogen Power

People tend to be afraid of nuclear and hydrogen power because they are misinformed, or because the only information they have ever absorbed has been catastrophic and negative (such as Chernobyl or Japan after the tsunami). However, nuclear and hydrogen do provide alternative power sources that are strong and affordable.

Learn more about hydrogen power and nuclear energy before you make up your mind. The next time you see a nuclear plant you might think of Springfield and clean energy before you think of Hiroshima.

Affordable alternative energy can come from a provider such as Commerce energy, or can be harnessed at home for the right price. While the upfront cost might seem like too much, you have to consider your savings of a decade or longer. 

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