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Intro to Energy Alternatives

As a society, we have become dependent on electricity for so many of our basic needs. For many homes, even a gas furnace will not work without electricity to power the fans. Many of our homes are no longer constructed with an electric-free lifestyle in mind. When the grid has issues, make sure that your home can still function like a home.


Solar power for home use falls into two categories: passive and non-passive. Passive solar collects power from the sun to heat a home, usually by gradually releasing the collected heat into the house over a number of hours and into the night. Non-passive gathering of solar energy generally stores all electricity in a battery, so the stocked energy can be used at night and so the lower consumption devices are not overloaded by a high amount of energy with only so many places to go. The second option requires more equipment (such as batteries), however it provides a relatively consistent source of power.

Solar panels, while going down in price, are still a hefty investment. To offset this, some power companies have incentives for homes with solar panels to stay connected to the grid and sell the power company their unused wattage. This can result in a smaller or sometimes even negative balance power bill for the house.


A small wind turbine in an ideal location can easily provide a home with more than enough wattage.  However, in less than ideal situations the amount of power produced goes down. Depending on the package, wind turbines can be used as supplemental power for a house still connected to the grid or for off the grid power needs.  Like for solar, power companies are often willing to buy extra electricity created by the turbines. For off the grid wind turbines, batteries are required to store power and to even out variations in the power supply from fluctuating wind speeds.

Bio diesel and generators

Diesel generators can use bio diesel fuel, although there is concern as to how much and for how long before some level of clogging or wear occurs. There are also generators retrofitted especially to consume bio diesel in order to avoid those issues. Bio diesel can be made from animal and vegetable sources that may be more readily available than gas during a crisis. To see a step-by-step guide on how to make bio diesel visit >> How to Make Biodiesel .

Human power

If you only need to run small appliances now and then, there are more novel ways to make electricity such as the human powered stationary bicycle. They generally only produce 200 watts of electricity and are intended more for the off the grid minimalist who already has alternative means for home heating and food storage.

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