As a homeowner, you have witnessed firsthand how the cost of energy has risen steadily over the last few years. But have you ever wondered why?
This article will give you a basic understanding of how energy is produced from nonrenewable resources and renewable resources.
The catch is that nonrenewable resources may be harming the environment more than you realize, which is why you should strongly consider using renewable energy, such as solar power, as an alternative to control energy costs and help the environment.
What are nonrenewable resources?
To make an informed decision on how to control energy costs, you need to understand the difference between nonrenewable resources and renewable resources. Scientifically speaking, nonrenewable resources are finite and cannot be quickly produced. In other words, nonrenewable resources take millions of years to form via natural processes beneath the surface of the earth.
Essentially, there are four major nonrenewable resources that account for the vast majority of energy consumption in the U.S.:
- Natural gas
Here is a brief explanation of each type of nonrenewable resource.
Petroleum is the technical term for products created from raw, liquid crude oil. Generally, you can refer to petroleum as one of several fossil fuels. Over millions of years, fossil fuels have been created from the remains of organisms that have been covered and compressed underground. Burning petroleum products, such as gasoline and heating oil, releases the energy stored in fossil fuels that you use daily.
You may not know that a large percentage of the energy produced in the U.S. comes from coal mining. Similar to crude oil, coal is another fossil fuel that takes millions of years to form, but coal is mined from rock formations, whereas crude oil is a liquid. In fact, there are several different varieties of coal, and each contains a different amount of energy.
Your energy bill may include natural gas in addition to electricity consumption via nonrenewable resources. Natural gas is yet another type of fossil fuel that takes millions of years to form in various rock deposits underground. Interestingly, natural gas is actually colorless, odorless and tasteless, often extracted from crude oil deposits since these two fossil fuels are so closely related.
The most important fact you need to know about uranium is that it is not a fossil fuel. Uranium is the fuel that powers nuclear reactions. To generate vast amounts of energy by splitting uranium atoms, scientists use a specific variety of uranium that is rare. However, nuclear energy produced from uranium creates radioactive waste that is extremely harmful to humans and the environment, requiring careful storage since nuclear waste degrades very slowly.
Nonrenewable resources create harmful waste
Burning fossil fuels releases harmful air pollutants known as greenhouse gases. As the U.S. has increased its consumption of fossil fuels, more greenhouse gas emissions, principally carbon dioxide, have been released into the air. Scientifically speaking, greenhouse gases aren’t harmful per se, but the release of vast amounts of greenhouse gases over time has led to a phenomenon called global warming.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says that in 2013 alone 84 percent of greenhouse gas emissions were related to the consumption of fossil fuels. Also, the U.S. ranks second only to China as the largest contributor of carbon dioxide emissions, which are a direct byproduct of fossil fuel consumption.
What are renewable resources?
Renewable resources give you a “green” alternative to finite nonrenewable resources that are harmful to the environment. Many varieties of renewable resources have become viable energy sources in recent times, but the one that will keep your energy costs low is solar power.
The sun produces solar energy, which can be stored in solar energy cells for later use. You can use solar energy for heating as well as a source of electricity. The biggest benefit of solar energy is that it doesn’t produce greenhouse gas emissions. Also, the cost of installing and maintaining solar equipment in the home has become more affordable for homeowners interested in controlling energy costs while helping the environment.
Recent EIA data shows that the cost of solar power per module and per watt, the basic unit of energy consumption, has fallen dramatically, especially over the last decade as the price of solar energy systems continues to decline. Likewise, the efficiency of today’s solar cells continues to improve alongside affordable home technology.
When it comes to energy costs, it’s important to remember that nonrenewable resources are finite. As such, the price of energy produced from fossil fuels will only continue to climb as nonrenewable resources become more scarce. To keep energy costs low in the future, you should strongly consider solar power as an alternative to nonrenewable energy.
RGS Energy, founded in 1978, is one of the most experienced solar energy system providers in the United States. To learn how solar could lower your electric bills and to get a free quote, visit www.RGSEnergy.com.