Because of the short, not really all that “green” post yesterday, and because the solar power solutions today aren’t all that practical, I’m going to double up todays post.
First, Solar power. Unless you want to go completely off grid you’ll need an intertie system. These systems allow you to use solar energy while using the power company as a backup for cloudy days or during heavy electrical use. In some cases with an intertie system your meter may spin backwards as your solar system makes more electricity than your household uses. When I first looked into these systems a few years ago I recall finding some kits in the $5,000 range, but today they all seem to be 2 or 3 times that much. Which totally kills any financial gain which might result in going solar. At $10,000 or more it would take around 30 years before the investment started paying off. I don’t know many people who stay in the same house for that long anymore. Regardless, it does keep greenhouse gases down, and if you’re building a new home, what’s $10,000 on top of $150,000? So for some it could be a worthwhile investment. Also, no brown outs or power loss during a bad storm. Here’s one of the more affordable solar power retailers I’ve found.
Second, tankless water heaters. As an American, tankless water heaters came as a bit of a surprise when I first saw one. By only heating water when it is needed they can considerably cut down on the amount of energy used by an average household. There are some pros and cons, of course. Most tankless solutions can only handle one faucet at a time. So in a large household, it may be necessary to have more than one tankless heater. On the other hand, you will never run out of hot water, as there is no tank to empty. If you use hot water constantly throughout the day, you won’t see much of a difference on your energy bill. If you rarely use hot water, you will see some pretty hefty savings. Tankless heaters are small and can be installed in places you normally wouldn’t consider installing a standard water heater. But. They require maintenance. But. They have an average lifespan of 1.5 to 2 times that of a standard tank water heater.
I suggest going here or here and see if a tankless water heater could work for your application.