Until approximately a hundred years ago in the West, people only had recourse to renewable energy for heat and light for their homes. They burnt wood and sometimes coal or peat (OK, fossil fuels) and got up when the sun came up and went to bed with the sun too. In, fact a large part of the world’s population still lives like that.
Things altered with mechanized industry and night shifts. Electricity providers sold the populace on being able to do more instead of just sleeping when it got dark, and the Western population got hooked on buying huge amounts of energy, mostly electricity and engine fuel, which was usually produced from oil and coal.
This idea soon travelled around the world and with rising prosperity came emulation and other countries wanted the same. Now we are in the sad situation where we have to confess that we rode the fossil fuel gravy train to its terminus without thinking about what we would utilize when fossil fuels ran out.
This is where the typical citizen comes in. You have to think about how you want to draw energy in the future. Do you want to be powered by keeping sucking unrenewable resources out of the Earth, or do you want to have as little to do with it as possible? Would you rather have everything you have now, but know that the resources that are powering your lifestyle are renewable?
If, like millions of others around the globe, you would rather say ‘No!’ to traditional power production techniques, then you have to take a stand. But not only in words, you really have to do some something about it physically.
This will mean investing a lot of money up front, which might not be a problem for you or you may even think that taking a stand is worth looking for a bank loan. These are admirable sentiments, but I would like to propose that there is another way to self-sufficiency.
You could build your own!
Why not? The technology has been around for decades and is fairly simple. Most reasonably competent teenagers can put together a bank of photovoltaic cells into a solar panel and then plug that into your home’s electrical system. And if a teenager can do it, so can you. All you (and the teenager) will need is a solar panel kit and a schematical diagram. A plan in other words.
A solar panel kit can be bought locally from a DIY shop or from the Internet. A typical solar panel will take a few hours to assemble and will produce 100 watts of electrical energy. The electricity produced from these panels is then passed through an inverter that changes the current from DC to AC, making it usable by household appliances and the utility grid.
Do yourself and the planet a good turn, get off the grid and start saving money and the planet’s resources, you will be surprised how easy it is once you get going. And do not forget, you can do it in stages of, say, one 100 watt panel a month until you hit self-sufficiency. It is not a question of ‘All or Nothing’.
Owen Jones, the author of this article, writes on many topics, but is currently involved with a favourite subject, types of renewable energy. If you are interested in Sustainable Energy At Home, please click through to our site.