What Renewable Energy Options Are Available for Apartment Dwellers?

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Written by Martin Banks

Renters who are moving into new apartments have a lot of things to consider, and one of them is how the building is heated. It’s a good idea to look for renewable energy opportunities to lower bills and help the environment.

Plus, you never know when a storm or national crisis could disconnect you from the power grid. Having renewable energy sources may keep you going for multiple days. Here are a few options to ponder as you seek a new place.

Use Solar Energy

Solar energy is growing in popularity. Solar helps reduce our reliance on fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases. These gases pollute the air and enhance the effects of climate change. Sunlight also limits your dependence on the electrical grid, reducing your utility bills. However, solar isn’t just an option for homes. Apartment-dwellers also have a few choices to take advantage of the sun’s energy.

One way is to ask your landlord to install solar panels on the roof. You’ll need to clearly express the benefits it provides them to get their permission. For example, they can receive local and federal state tax credits to lower expenses. Also, some sites allow them to claim solar property and sales tax exemptions. Solar financing options are available for those on a tight budget.

Solar panels can also increase the property’s value. Plus, it will be easier for your landlord to recruit tenants due to the lower utility bills.

The other option is to find more personalized methods with your landlord’s permission. One option is buying portable solar panels. They can cost around $1-$2 per watt. These temporary, affordable panels can be placed on windowsills, balcony railings or anywhere with plenty of sunlight exposure. They provide enough energy to charge smartphones, laptops and small appliances. If you’re off the grid, you’ll need these fully charged to ensure your family members are safe.

Join a Solar Community

See if your community has a solar project you can join to share the expense with others. In this setup, a specific area purchases a system for a group of people. The panels are installed off-site instead of on your roof. The power it produces is transferred to your local utility company.

You then typically receive a bill for the electricity generated by your share of the system. This is a cheaper option due to the lower equipment costs and more efficient installation. It also provides you with more flexibility if you end up moving. Plus, then you have a community to keep you company or search for food during an apocalypse.

Buy Green Power for Your Home

Many companies offer green power options through specific rate plans. These guarantee they get their energy from certified renewable sources. These options may cost more than standard electricity rates, but they help reduce your carbon footprint.

Another way to go green is through Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). A REC verifies the power you purchased for your home comes from a renewable source, like solar. This option may cost more than standard rates, but it may be worth it to reduce your carbon footprint.

Some utility companies offer RECs, or you can buy them through certified retailers. You can also see if your friends or co-workers can recommend green companies in your area.

Explore Ways to Harness Wind Power

Windmills are efficient ways to harness wind energy. They produce power through the turbine’s blade, which allows air to blow on both sides. This creates high pressure on one edge and lower pressure on the other. The difference in tension leads to a high-speed rotation, generating electricity.

Wind energy is a readily available source that has less impact on the environment. Fossil fuels take more energy to extract and transport. Plus, wind is a free energy source. You can place turbines in remote locations like fields or valleys. In case of a global crisis, these locations may also be a good spot to hide out.

Wind can also be used to power apartment buildings. Nicolas Orellana, the winner of the James Dyson Award, is taking steps in this direction. He developed the O-Wind, an omnidirectional wind turbine suitable for urban apartment buildings. It can be suspended between cables and spins around a vertical axis. The spinning motion powers an electric generator.

Cities are also trying to incorporate wind systems. Eltona Apartments in the Bronx have wind turbines mounted on parapets. Landlords may be willing to give wind systems a try since city residents are getting more used to green living. For example, you could walk or bike to local restaurants or stores.

Look for Buildings With Geothermal Heat Pumps

Geothermal heat pumps use heat from the Earth to power your home. The system transfers warmth from loops of liquid-filled underground pipes. These pumps are energy-efficient and reduce noise levels. The initial upfront cost is high, but financial incentives include a $300 tax credit for Energy Star HVAC installations.

There are multiple systems to choose from, including-closed loop, open loop and hybrid. Geothermal pump systems are more popular in homes, but places like Ontario and New York are adding them to condos. These pumps have higher upfront costs but offer lower maintenance expenses. Also, geothermal pumps ensure apartments are up to code with green building regulations. These pumps are also great sources of energy for heating your home during a tornado.

How to Make Your Apartment Eco-Friendly

Powering residential buildings leads to tons of carbon emissions that harm the environment. That’s why it’s a good idea to look into renewable energy sources. You can better help the planet and save yourself in case of a natural disaster. There are multiple choices, from solar to wind. Check with your local utility company to see what green power options are available, and always get permission from your landlord.

About the author

Martin Banks is the managing editor at Modded. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates on his work.

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Image by seagul from Pixabay

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