What does alternative energy mean to you?

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One of the biggest challenges and dilemmas of our generation is to find and use alternative energy sources. This has been an on going concern for generations, but as Earths’ natural resources, such as oil, are depleting, it is now more urgent than ever to invest in alternative and renewable energy sources.

What does alternative energy mean to you? For most people, wind and solar power come to mind, but there are many other sources available.

Wind Power—Wind energy harnesses the power of wind to drive the blades of wind turbines. The force of rotation created by the turbine blades is converted into energy using an electric generator. It produces no pollution, and since no chemicals are used, there are no harmful by-products to be worried about. The only down side (besides the fact that large wind farms aren’t exactly esthetically pleasing) is that wind is not predictable. Less wind=less energy.

Solar Power—Solar power uses sunlight that hits solar thermal panels to convert sunlight to heat water or air. It also captures sunlight in parabolic mirrors to heat water. The sun is an extremely powerful and natural way to heat your home. Try opening your blinds or shades on a sunny day—the sunlight will heat the room in no time. Solar power is also renewable; as long as the sun is shining, the Earth will have solar energy. Plus, no chemicals are used, so there are no nasty chemical toxins, or water or air pollution. On the down side, solar power stations can be extremely expensive to build, and are only effective when the sun is shining. Be careful of cloudy days!

Geothermal Energy—“Earth heat.” Beneath the Earth’s surface lies heat energy! Hot rocks under the ground heat water and produce steam. When holes are drilled in these areas, it releases energy that drives turbines and power-up electric generators. Geothermal plants are generally small and self-sufficient. If done correctly, geothermal energy is not harmful to the planet.

Hydroelectric Energy—Hydroelectric power comes from the energy of dammed water, which drives a water turbine and generator. It produces no waste or pollution and the water can be reused. However, dams can be costly to build and you better cross your fingers for no draughts.

Renewable or “green” energy will reduce your carbon footprint as well as your electric and home heating bills! Many states offer incentives and rebates to promote renewable and alternative energy. Check out this site to see what your state offers: http://www.dsireusa.org/

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