The use of unsustainable sources of energy for the generation of electricity has often been blamed for the ever increasing likely hood of the earth's natural resources becoming depleted. The term 'unsustainable energy sources' refers to any method of energy generation that uses natural resources at a faster rate than the earth can regenerate them. Part of the solution to the problems associated with the use of unsustainable energy sources is to encourage consumers to switch to more sustainable sources of energy generation. Sustainable energy sources, often referred to as renewable energy sources, include solar panels, heat pumps, wind turbines and rainwater harvesting.
Solar Panels and Wind Turbines
Renewable energy plans that can reduce energy bills and help save the earth's natural resources are topped by solar panel systems and wind turbines. Solar panels use the photovoltaic effect that is displayed by certain semiconductors to absorb photons from the sun and convert it into electricity. Wind turbines use the power of the wind to turn the shaft of a generator and create electricity known as wind power. Solar power tends to be seen as the more effective of the two because, unlike wind turbines, the suns energy tends to be more constant in adequate supply. Wind turbines, on the other hand, generally require wind speeds of 10 mph or more to be truly effective. Many renewable energy planes utilize a combination of solar and wind energy to achieve optimum energy output.
Air and Ground source heat pumps absorb heat from the ground or air and transfer this heat to water that is then pumped around a heating or hot water system. Heat pumps tend to be less effective as a renewable energy alternative than solar panels and wind turbines because of the additional electricity that is required to pump the water around a heating system. Also, there may be occasions when water heated by heat pumps will require additional heating to achieve a higher temperature. This will require conventional electricity produced unsustainably and although heat pumps can contribute to reducing the depletion of fossil fuels, it would be advisable to combine heat pumps with solar energy or wind turbines for maximum effect.
Rainwater has been used in many parts of the world for washing and other purposes, including for drinking water. In the UK rainwater harvesting would involve capturing rainwater collected on roofs and tents to be recycled and used around a home or business. Rainwater harvesting can reduce the dependency on mains water and thus reduce the amount of electricity used to pump mains water around the towns and cities of the UK. It is widely accepted that every little attempt at reducing consumer's dependency on the use of harmful fossil fuels to generate energy, is a step in the direction of saving the precious earth and the gifts that it offers mankind, for as long as possible.