How Can I Green Our House?
We live in a 1600 square foot one-story house in central North Carolina, and are interested in exploring our options for going green. How do we go about getting the information we need so we can do the numbers and decide what makes sense? Some specific questions:
1. How do I find out if we have enough wind to use a personal windmill? If net metering is not an option (let's say our utility doesn't like it), can we use a windmill to generate juice that we use, and can the utility's juice kick in automatically when needed? Is there proven technology for this?
2. What about photovoltaic cells? I read that a new technology has greatly reduced their cost. Is this a breakthrough that translates into more widespread use at a price that makes them cost effective? How can I find out?
3. Solar collectors for heating water. For hot water we have a traditional gas heated water tank. We have forced air heat provided by a hydronic system, not as efficient as the latest gas furnaces but it doesn't dry the air as much. If, when the boiler goes ( or nears the end of its usable life), we replace it with a tankless type system (say, one made by Rinnai), will that be compatible with our hydronic heat AND could a solar heat collector be used to reduce the consumption of natural gas?
4. Finally, we live in a subdivision that has a homeowners association that is somewhat fussy about the appearance of things. So anything we want to do that affects the outside appearance of the house or that raises the noise level, which a windmill will do, would have to be cleared with them. How can I find out about the "environmental impact" of any of the green installations we might be putting in?
Many thanks for your help.