Best Alternative Energy Technologies for the Home?

My new house in Georgia (an hour north of Atlanta) is nearing completion, and I am begining to consider that my new all-electric home will be rather expensive to heat and cool.
I do have access to firewood, and I intend to install a woodstove as soon as possible, but this only helps out in the winter. I do like my creature-comforts and I have no intention of suffering during the miserably hot summer months.

Do any Dopers have any experience with Alternative Energy technologies such as solar heating, photovoltaics, wind power, water power and the like?

What do you have and what do you like/dislike about the technology? What would you do differently, and if you’ve researched it, what would you like to have?

Did you install yourself and if so, can you share your experiences with that?


I’m no expert on this topic, but we do have a wood-burning fireplace. If the central heating is on, the fireplace does NOT contribute to energy efficiency. Much of the heat will go right up the flue. It pulls in air from the rest of the house, making the room where the thermostat is cooler, and the furnace goes on. We’ve found the fireplace useful when the furnace is off – for example, when power is lost, or when it’s just a tad chilly but not cold enough to activate central heating.

I believe some stoves, etc., are better about this than a regular fireplace, but similar physics is in effect.

Modern woodburners have a flue where air is brought in from outside, not from the house. So it’s a sealed unit, no carbon monoxide worries and no worries about losing heated air from inside the house.

Thermostat location should be a consideration. It’s a bummer when your living room is 90 and your bedroom is 30.

As far as alternative energy, woodburners are knocked for their high pollutant levels and the price of wood, but if you have ready access to wood, that argument falls a little flatter. A modern woodburner puts out booku btus.

A good wood stove will put a regular fireplace to shame. And many of them use outside air for combustion.