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Parker Graham

Ms. Caruso

UWRT 1103

11 April 2017

Defense Paper: Alternative Energy Systems

Most Americans would agree that global warming is a real threat to our planet, and that

implementing alternative energy sources is a major step to combating the effects of it. Yet, only

4% of American homeowners have residential solar panels installed, and only 40% have even

considered the option (6). ThisIt is partially because of a widespread myth that solar panels are

only for the rich, and should be considered a luxury, but i. While It turns out that solar panels

have become increasingly affordable for the middle class over the past decade, with the White

House announcing several policies to ensure so (2). And Also, if solar panels are not the right

choice for you due to living space or economic position, there are other alternative energy

systems out there worth considering. I’m sympathetic with the American people who are hesitant

to make the switch. The process of purchasing an alternative energy system can be confusing at

times, but it is crucial that it iswe overcome this and push forwardand the energy transition that

seems to of stalled out in present day America is reinvigorated. Making solar panels and other

alternative energy sources the norm status quo within the middle class of America should be the crucial.

Starting the process of purchasing and installing one of thesean alternative energy

systems can be intimidating, and I think most people potential customers do not know where to

start. My goal is to spread the message that there are alternative energy systems out there for

almost everybody. I also want to be able to point people in the right direction as to where to

purchase these systems and the steps they need to take to do so. To accomplish this goal, I

created a buyer’s guide in the form of a brochure. This My plan is for this brochure is to be

displayed primarily in home improvement stores or local hardware stores, but really in any

popular store will work. I say hHardware stores will be the target because I want to specifically

target people who are trying to make home improvements and who are proactive and . They

would ideally be the most willing to make the switch. But I do want to spread this message

towant to reach more than just the home improvement type and get the idea of renewable energy

systems into consideration for every homeowner, and that is why I say any store will work. I

want to get the idea of new energy systems turning in every home owners mind. There were also

some specific decisions that I made regarding the aesthetic design of the brochure. When it came

to colorcolor, I chose bright eye-catching colors that will make my brochure stand out from

others on a large display. There is a considerable amount of lot of green on the brochure for the

obvious symbolism of being eco-friendly. Another touch that I added was putting in bold and

increased font size the potential money to be saved by any of the given systems, to grab the

attention of viewersshoppers.

In the researchresearch I didconducted prior to creating my product I learnedread a lot

about the current state of the alternative energy switch in America, and why it seems to of

stalled. I think every homeowner should know of this information and understand why it is

important that we keep pushing forward these new energy systems., and that’s why it’s the first

thing I discuss on my brochure. From the very beginning, when global warming was first

becoming a national discussion,, goals were set for renewable energy sources, s. Such as Al

Gore’s 100% renewable electricity by 2020 target (5). As we as Americans gets closer to these

deadlines and realizes that we are nowhere close to reaching our goals it is quite disheartening,

and this has caused a slump in the energy switch. The blame has toshould be partially put on

those who created the unrealistic goals in the first place. “It's taken between 50 and 70 years for a

resource to reach a large penetration. When you look at the money, the infrastructure, the

regulation, the technologies, it takes many decades for any fuel source to make a large impact”

(3). Setting goals such as 100% renewables by 2020 was over-optimistic and but unrealistic.

TAnd this is where the homeowners of the middle class come in, t. The energy sswitch is still

important and crucial for our planet’s future and needs to be driven forward by the middle class.

About a fifth of energy consumption in America comes from the residential sector (14). If

renewable energy sources can become the normal in residential areas it will save families a

considerable amount of money while also setting forth a new energy standard for us to live by.

When it comes to the actual alternative energy systems I covered in my additional

research and on my brochure, there were several options, the first being solar panels, the most

well-known system. The first thing I wanted to do was see if solar panels were the right fit for

the reader. Solar panels are one of the cheapest options and the easiest to get your hands on (7).

The first variable to consider is how much money is willing to be spent on the system. In North

CarolinaCarolina, the average cost for a 6 kW system ranges between $12,900 and $16,300 (8).

This is a hefty price to pay up front to purchase and have your system installedfor most middle

class homeowners, but . tThe buyer should keep in mind that solar panels and any other

alternative energy systems are an investments and will pay for themselves in only a matter of

time. “The average U.S. household can break even on their solar energy system in just 7.5

years”, and in Charlotte NC, over the course of 20 years, the owner should expect to save

upwards of $15,000 (8). Another factor to consider before purchasing solar panels is the build of

the house. The ideal house for solar panels will have maximum surface area facing South,

minimal shading, and minimal obstructions on the roof (9). The brochure also contains Also on

my brochure regarding solar panels I give links to helpful websites that assist in finding the

specific solar panel that is right for you. Included in these links is a Solar Calculator that

“quickly estimates your savings with solar based off of your roof, electricity bill, and actual

offers in your area” (10).

In addition to solar panels, in mythe brochure introduces I give information about a

couple other alternative energy systems. The two options that I share mentioned are hydropower

systems and wind turbines. Both systems have their pros advantages and cons disadvantages

when compared to solar panels. Wind turbines are a great option for homeowners in a more rural

area, ideally on a one acre plus plot of land. Wind turbines are one of, if not the most efficient

option on the market with the capability of reducing energy-costs by up to 90%. The system does

have its downfalls as they require regular maintenance and are quite expensive. A 10 kW wind

turbine costs approximately $48,000 65,000 total, but this with the equipment costing about

$40,000 and the rest being shipping and installation”. But, thtype ofe system pays for itself in as

short as 6 years and any electricity produced after that is essentially free (11). The other type of

system introduced in the brochure that I discuss is hydropower. This system is for a very specific

group of homeowners as it requires a stream, creek, or some form of flowing water to be

somewhere on the property. TBut this is a great option for homeowners in wooded area where

solar panels are not applicable (12). Just like the wind turbines hydropower has its advantages

and disadvantages. “Hydro can often be the most economical renewable electricity resource over

the long haul” (13). However, hydropower can be extremely difficult to install and often comes

with a large price tag. To have a hydro system fully installed it can costs as low as $20,000 and

as high as $100,000, it all depends on the waterway that the homeowner has available (13). Both

wind turbines and hydropower are great options and should be considered by anyone who meets

satisfies the criteria.

My goal is to spread the message of the importance of implementing alternative energy

systems in middle class homes. A normal status quo of alternative energy systems needs to be

pushed forward to kick-start the switch to alternative energy systems once again. MI think my

product, the brochure, should be successful in doing so. I am able to present Tthe issue facing

America is presented to the reader and along with what I believe needs to be done to address it. I

. present Tthree separate systems for homeowners to consider are introduced and describe pros

and cons of themthe advantages and disadvantages of both are discussed. The brochure

successfully introduces homeowners to the world of renewable energy systems and helps them

begin their journey into it.


Original Sources:

1. Huso, Deborah. "Can You Afford to Go Green? The Cost and Savings of Residential

Renewable Energy Systems." Mother Earth Living. December 06, 2010. Accessed

2. Ruffalo / Huffington Post, Mark. "How Solar Power Can Be Affordable and Accessible for

All." Alternet. July 20, 2015. Accessed February 23, 2017.

3. Lacey, Stephen. "Why the Energy Transition is Longer Than We Admit." Renewable Energy

World. April 22, 2010. Accessed February 21, 2017.


Maly, Tim. "A Brief History of Human Energy Use." The Atlantic. November 13, 2015.

5. Gipe, Paul. "Can the U.S. Reach 100 Percent Renewable Electricity in 10 Years?" Renewable

Energy World. July 17, 2008. Accessed February 21, 2017.

New Sources:

6. Funk, Cary, and Brian Kennedy. "Public opinion on renewables and other energy sources."

Pew Research Center. October 4, 2016. Accessed April 3, 2017.

7. "Solar Power vs. Wind Power Pros and Cons." Go Green in Your Home. Accessed April 3,

8. Matasci, Sara. "2017 Average Cost of Solar Panels in the U.S." EnergySage. February 11,

2017. Accessed April 03, 2017.

9. "Is My House a Good Fit for Solar? | SolarFlair Energy Inc." SolarFlair Energy. Accessed

10. "Solar Calculator." EnergySage. Accessed April 04, 2017.

11. "Residential Wind Energy Systems - Bergey Wind PowerBergey Wind Power." Bergey

Wind Power. Accessed April 04, 2017.

12. "Solar, Wind, Hydropower: Home Renewable Energy Installations." Accessed

13. Piggott, Hugh . "ASK THE EXPERTS: Microhydro Cost." Home Power. January 2013.

14. "Energy consumption estimates by sector." U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA -

Independent Statistics and Analysis. Accessed April 04, 2017.