Copyright ©2010 |The Unique Green Boutique
By Jasmin Malik Chua, Special to LiveScience
posted: 06 October 2008 09:07 am ET
As utility costs mount ever higher, Americans now have real options to take home energy matters into their own hands with "green" systems that can pay for themselves in as little as a few years.
Choosing the do-it-yourself route can offer the freedom of going partially or totally off the grid. And, if the energy generated exceeds your actual usage, you can even sell the excess juice to your utility company. But none of this is free. Here's how much change you should expect to kick in:
You can probably shave off a few thousand dollars once state and federal rebates come into play.
Assuming a property value appreciation of $14,000 to $27,000, as well as average annual utility savings of $1,000 to $2,000, you can potentially recoup your investment in three to 14 years.
Depending on where it's situated, the average system will cost about a few thousand dollars — $10,000 for really large systems — but installation, permits and piping costs can quickly add up the further the water or electricity needs to travel from the generator to your home, especially if the terrain makes pipelines difficult to install. The break-even period? As little as a couple of years, depending on your energy usage.
Durable and almost maintenance-free because their components are sheltered underground away from the elements, geothermal heat pumps are guaranteed to last 25 to 50 years.
Many consumers can exercise an option with their power supplier to switch over to electricity generated from renewable sources, either from their utility or through the purchase of renewable energy certificates. (Visit the U.S. Department of Energy's Web site to find out if you can purchase green energy in your state. http://www.eere.energy.gov/greenpower/buying/buying_power.shtml) Rules vary state-by-state.
This option comes at only a small premium, say an extra $10 monthly, but obviously, you're still tethered to the energy grid.