What's Your Renewable Energy Potential?

Find out if a solar- or wind-electric system is a good option for your home.

| March 3, 2008

It's easy to get excited about solar and wind power. Choosing to produce your own electricity with rooftop solar panels or a backyard wind turbine is not only a great, sustainable option, but it can save you money, too.

That’s because tapping these renewable resources instead of fossil fuels reduces greenhouse gases, as well as mining wastes, and many other sources of air and water pollution. And renewable energy from the sun and wind is completely free. Once you purchase the initial system, you don’t have to spend money on the fuel to run it. Those savings add up quickly!

But how much solar and wind energy are available where you live? The fact is that some locations are much sunnier or windier than others. Without a steady supply of either wind or sunshine, generating your own electricity at home may not be a practical option. So how do you find out whether a home solar- or wind-electric system will work for you?

One Quick Estimate

Fortunately, it's getting easier to learn about renewable energy thanks to handy online calculators and other resources.

A good place to start is the MyWatts Estimator. This is a free service provided by ChooseRenewables.com (a company that provides the estimates free, but does sell related products and services.) Just type in your location, and you immediately get a map and short summary of the solar and wind resources in your area.

This is a rough estimate, but it's a good starting place. For example, you can quickly see that your wind power resource is “good,” while your solar power resource is merely “average,” or vice versa.

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