Integrating renewable energy systems into your home benefits the environment and reduces your energy bills. These technologies also allow you to reduce your overall carbon footprint.

    Interested in reaping these benefits? The most common renewable energy options for home use are solar panels, geothermal HVAC, small wind turbines, and micro-hydropower systems. Read on to learn the pros and cons of each approach in my guide on renewable energy for the home.

    Geothermal Systems

    Geothermal HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems leverage the constant temperatures found just below the earth’s surface to provide heating and cooling for homes. A typical geothermal system has an indoor handling unit connected to underground piping loops.

    The piping loops carry water or an anti-freeze solution that absorbs heat from the ground in winter. The heat gets transferred indoors to warm your home. In summer, the process reverses —   heat gets extracted from your home and dispersed into the cooler earth.

    There are several pros and cons of geothermal heating systems. According to the Department of Energy, geothermal systems can reduce energy bills by up to 72% versus conventional HVAC systems. These systems also have a long life. You can expect these to last around 25 years for the indoor components and over 50 years for the underground piping.

    • Cost to Install: $20,000 to $30,000 for a complete system. Tax credits and rebates can offset 30% or more of the initial cost.
    • Ideal For: Homeowners wanting to lower their energy bills significantly. Geothermal works best where plenty of lawn or yard space is available to accommodate the buried loops.

    Wind Turbines

    Residential wind turbines supplement your home’s electricity. The wind turbine sits atop a tower and harnesses kinetic energy from the wind. Most systems connect to a battery bank that stores power when wind speeds are optimal. Excess energy is fed back into the electrical grid.

    For peak performance, wind turbines need open land and ample wind. 

    Today’s Homeowner Tips

    I recommend at least one acre of unobstructed space. Wind power works best in rural locations, but some suburban homeowners install turbines too. Consult a wind turbine professional and consider zoning rules, noise, and other location-based factors before installing.

    • Cost to Install: $15,000 to $50,000, depending on turbine size. Qualifies for a 30% federal tax credit.
    • Ideal For: Rural or semi-rural homeowners with enough wind resources and space. Remember, local zoning laws may limit turbine height.

    Hydropower Systems

    For remote properties with access to flowing water, small-scale hydropower systems can provide off-grid renewable electricity. Installation involves placing a turbine in a flowing stream. As water moves through the turbine, spinning blades convert the kinetic energy into electrical energy.

    Unfortunately, implementing residential hydropower brings many challenges. Building a dam often raises environmental ‌and legal concerns. Droughts can also impact energy production.

    As a result, home hydropower is rare. However, it may work for remote properties where substantial elevation drops allow water routing across the land and through a turbine.

    • Cost to Install: Varies significantly based on site conditions and materials.
    • Ideal For: Remote, rural properties with a natural landscape to route water to a turbine.

    Solar Panels

    Solar panels, also called photovoltaic panels, convert sunlight into electricity. Most solar panel systems connect to the electrical grid. This setup allows excess energy to be returned to the utility company, reducing overall electricity costs.

    For homes, panels are typically mounted on sloped rooftops, but ground-mounted systems are also an option. The biggest benefit of ground mounting is that it avoids roof concerns and provides more flexibility in panel placement.

    • Cost to Install: $15,000 to $25,000 for a 5-kW system, offsetting around 75% of an average home’s electricity needs. The federal tax credit is 30% of the total system cost.
    • Ideal For: All homeowners seeking lower electricity bills. Solar works in any climate, but sunnier regions see greater savings. Roof-mounted solar panels require an unshaded, south-facing roof space.

    So, Is Renewable Energy Right for Your Home?

    Adding renewable energy systems can shrink your carbon footprint and reduce your energy costs. The best options for your home depend on climate, outdoor space, and upfront costs. For homeowners planning to stay in their homes, renewable energy investments often pay for themselves over time, making these worthwhile purchases. 

    Read also: The Homeowner’s Guide to HERS Testing

    FAQs About Home Renewable Energy

    How much does installing renewable energy at home cost?

    Renewable energy system costs vary significantly by type and size. For example, small solar installations average $15,000 to $25,000, while geothermal HVAC runs $20,000 to $30,000. Wind turbines cost between $15,000 and $50,000. Hydropower has the widest cost range based on site conditions.

    Which renewable energy system works with any home?

    Solar electric systems are the most versatile. Solar panels can be mounted on any roof type or ground mount in the yard. Geothermal HVACs need adequate outdoor space for the loops. Wind power requires specific wind and property conditions. Hydropower depends on water access, limiting which homes can use it.

    Is renewable energy a smart investment for homeowners?

    Renewable energy sources like solar panels and geothermal HVACs reduce energy bills through lower electricity and HVAC costs. With available tax credits, most systems pay for themselves within 6 to 10 years. For homeowners staying put, renewable energy investments make sense.

    What maintenance do renewable energy systems require?

    Maintenance needs will depend on the type of renewable energy source you use. Solar panels require very little maintenance. Geothermal systems need periodic checkups and filter changes. Wind turbines require more frequent inspections and oil changes. Maintenance for hydropower depends on the water source and installation details.

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Amy DeYoung

    Amy DeYoung


    Amy DeYoung has a passion for educating and motivating homeowners to improve their lives through home improvement projects and preventative measures. She is a content writer and editor specializing in pest control, moving, window, and lawn/gardening content for Today’s Homeowner. Amy utilizes her own experience within the pest control and real estate industry to educate readers. She studied business, communications, and writing at Arizona State University.

    Learn More

    photo of Casey Daniel

    Casey Daniel

    Casey Daniel is a writer and editor with a passion for empowering readers to improve their homes and their lives. She has written and reviewed content across multiple topics, including home improvement, lawn and garden care, sustainability, and health and wellness. When she’s not reviewing articles, Casey is usually playing board games, repainting her bathroom, or quilting.

    Learn More