Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

What Is Renewable Energy?

October 27, 2020

Over the last few decades in the United States, non-renewable energy sources - such as fossil fuels - have provided the main source of power for our everyday lives. But to help promote conservation and sustainability efforts, today scientists and industry are exploring renewable energy resources. At Watt Watchers of Texas we are well-versed in all things related to energy conservation, and our education efforts also include information on renewable energy. It is important that children and adults understand exactly what renewable energy is, what types of renewable energy exist, and the importance of clean energy for our homes and schools.

When power is sourced from natural elements such as wind, water, or sunlight, this is considered renewable energy. For example; wind moving a sailboat across the sea without the need for a motor (which uses fossil fuels) to function. Previously, it had been difficult to harness renewable energy for wide usage because they were more expensive, and there were no battery storage technologies capable of holding the energy for long periods of time.However, today we have less expensive ways to harness renewable energy, such as wind and solar energy.

Types of Renewable Energy

The earth provides several natural, renewable sources of energy that we have been able to harness and utilize for power. These include:

  • Solar energy: The sun’s rays can be used to heat homes and businesses, warm water, and power devices after having been harnessed through rooftop solar panels, community projects, and solar farms. Solar does not produce air pollutants or greenhouse gases, and panels have very little impact on the environment as long as they are responsibly sited.
  • Wind energy: Wind power has become the cheapest energy source in many areas of the country, especially in California, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Iowa. Many years ago, wind was harnessed by wind mills, but modern methods have changed the mills into turbines as tall as skyscrapers. When wind turns the blades of the turbine, the power is sent to an electric generator and produces electricity.
  • Hydroelectric power: The force of fast-moving water is converted into electricity by spinning a generator’s turbine blades. It is the largest renewable energy source in the United States. Small hydroelectric plants are much more environmentally sound.
  • Geothermal: The earth’s core is as hot as the sun’s surface, and drilling deep wells can bring the very hot underground water to the surface as a hydrothermal resource. That water can then be sent through a turbine to create electricity.

Understanding how these renewable resources can be utilized as a source of power rather than non-renewable resources can be very valuable when working to educate others and begin the transition to these clean energy sources.

Renewable Energy at Home 

Anyone can integrate renewable energy sources into their everyday lives in an effort to be more sustainable. Solar power can be harnessed through PV cell panels or a passive solar home design so that your home can be powered with only the sun’s rays. Small wind turbines can be installed for homeowners to reduce your reliance on the electrical grid. To cool homes in summer and warm them in the winter and even heat water, the constant temperature of the earth can be accessed through geothermal pumps. While these systems are sometimes expensive, some do pay for themselves over time (by reducing utility bills), are often quieter, and can have fewer maintenance issues. Using renewable resources such as water, solar, and wind is a sustainable method of energy, so it is critical that we all learn about the benefits of clean energy and incorporate it into our daily lives.

Contact our Energy Conservation Experts!

At Watt Watchers of Texas, we are dedicated to providing STEM-based educational resources to parents and teachers of children in grades K-12 to increase energy literacy throughout Texas and the larger United States. We believe that it is never too young to learn about the benefits of clean energy and energy conservation. Our program offers activities, tips, and lessons on energy saving on a daily basis, and we even have a Student Patrol Program designed to give kids the power to show their schools and families how to conserve energy and save money on utility bills. Contact Watt Watchers today to learn more about all of our valuable resources!

Watt Watchers of Texas is a Partner Program of Smart Energy Education.
Watt Watchers of Texas. Copyright © 2020 The University of Texas at Austin. All Rights Reserved.
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