Alternative Energy Sources:
What Are Your Choices?

With the world becoming more environmentally conscious, many of us are turning to alternative energy sources. A simple definition for "alternative energy" is, any form of energy produced by or from non-traditional methods. Essentially, this involves the elements of the sun, wind and water as well as one whole planet – the earth.

The power of all these natural forces and the potential to harness renewable energy is one aspect that attracts individuals to alternative power sources. If the cost is feasible, this merely increases the appeal. Many individuals are lured by potential savings. Others prefer to focus on the eco-friendly aspects. Still others look to the chance to live off the grid – to escape from the ties to government encouraged traditional sources of power.

In order to accomplish this move, it's essential to look at various aspects of the different modes of energy production. It is also essential to examine the capability of each type for energy production. It's not always possible to turn to specific alternative energy sources. Certain environmental and geographical factors may limit their implementation and application as a consistent source of power.

Solar Power

Solar power is clean, green energy. It involves tapping into the power of the sun. This requires the use of solar panels placed in direct sunlight. With the help of various other devices, which may include a solar collector to heat water, and solar cells to turn solar energy into electric power. These are called "photovoltaic" (PV) cells.

If you live in a location which faces south and where the sun is consistent, solar energy is a viable option. If the days tend to be darker and shorter than the nights, this may not prove to be the method you should consider. You may not be able to employ a stand-alone solar system but have to rely on a combination of alternative energy sources and traditional sources.

Wind Power

The wind is another means of harnessing power to generate electricity. This requires some kind of wind turbine. It means checking local legislation to see if you can install a wind mill or a wind farm. It is also necessary that your home is located in a region where the wind blows with regularity and sufficient strength to drive the blades to create the power.

Another consideration is the cost and maintenance of wind power. Wind turbines require regular maintenance to ensure they are performing up to capacity. The initial cost may also be steep.

Water Power

Water power is less discussed than other forms of energy production. It is easy to forget that water wheels can create energy sufficient enough to power such things as DC powered computers and batteries. The term often applied is micro-hydro. The major drawback here is the need for a water source. Maintenance is also another consideration. Yet, unlike the source of solar and wind power, you can construct a pond or stream to help you power-up.

Earth Power

Geo-thermal Power is one more means of supplying power. It is usually tapped for heating a home. There are geo-thermal pumps (ground-source heat pumps) you can purchase for your home use. There are also plants that produce geo-thermal power. The drawbacks include the initial cost. It is steep. The long term savings do, however, make it worth considering.


Alternative energy sources offer a viable option to the traditional modes of powering your home and all its contents. The energy you can obtain from water, wind, earth and the sun can help drive generators, charge batteries and do everything from heat your home to run ranges, DC powered computers and other electronics and appliances.

Before you decide to move off the grid and look for alternative energy power sources so you can go green, be sure you take a look at what's available, the cost of the technology to help extract it and whether it's applicable in your situation.

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