Alternative Energy and the Cheapest Electricity Options

Alternative energy sources have received a lot of attention during the last decade or so and for good reason. Simply put, theyre clean and reusable in addition to being cheaper alternatives to fossil fuel based energies like oil, petroleum, and coal. Theyre much better for the environment overall and there is no chance of their stores being eventually diminished and used up.

But the big reason that so many people have their eyes turned to alternative energy is that it has the potential to be a far cheaper energy source than traditional energy. While the technologies are still new, still being developed, their prices are already competitive with those of traditional electricity providers and all but guaranteed to become even cheaper as time moves on and they are refined and perfected.

The five energy sources discussed below are five of the alternative energy sources that offer the cheapest electricity for use in both homes and businesses. Keep your eyes trained on them because they are sure to become more and more popular as the years progress. Pretty soon youll likely be seeing alternative electricity being used in the majority of houses in your own neighborhood.

Solar Power

The alternative energy source known as solar power is one of the cheapest electricity options of all. For this reason it is also one of the most popular forms of alternative energy used to provide the electricity needs to average peoples homes. In fact, after installation (and not including maintenance) solar power is all but free. You see, solar power is built on the basis of harnessing the suns energy through the installation of crystalline silicon PV solar panels which then transfer this energy to electricity. This electricity can then be stored in batteries for days when it is not very sunny out (though solar panels still perform just as well in cloudy or overcast conditions). The price for solar panels has fallen to just over $1 a watt which, by most states standards, is just as cheap, if not cheaper, than traditional residential electricity.

Hydro Power

Though solar power is currently the cheapest electricity option for alternative energy, hydro power has the potential to be the most economical of all. Hydro power is simply the energy of water, most commonly from rivers, generated into electricity. While the electricity from solar power is harvested at individual homes or businesses, the electricity from hydro power comes from a large centralized power plant. Though this doesnt give you as much control over the specifics of the electricity source, it does mean that costs can be levelized and thus made more affordable. New reports show that the newest and most efficient hydroelectric dams can pump out electricity at costs as low as $0.02 per kilowatt hour.

Wind Power

If you live in or have visited rural America lately, then there is a good chance that you have seen wind turbines (they look much like oversized windmills) in action. Heck, there is a good chance that youve seen them even if you rarely leave the city as this cheap form of alternative electricity is becoming steadily more popular even in urban centers. While wind power was once extremely expensive due to the high construction costs involved, its electricity prices have started to fall as more turbines have been built and the technologies have been further refined. In fact, todays wind power is on par price wise with gas-fired generation. It only costs around $0.05 per kilowatt hour today.

Geothermal Energy

A much lesser known form of alternative energy, geothermal energy has the potential to provide for very cheap electricity. It works on the concept of steam shooting up from hot rocks under the earth that then spin turbines. The big problem with geothermal energy is that geothermal plants need to be positioned in exactly the right spots. They need to be built on geothermal hotspots where much heat and natural energy is being produced naturally beneath the earth. Because of the relative scarcity of these sites, geothermal energy has not yet taken off like the other energy sources described on this list. However, much effort is being put into making current plants more effective so that the cost of electricity generated from geothermal energy goes down and is more affordable.

Natural Gas

Many people dont think of natural gas an alternative energy because it is commonly extracted from the ground and shares much in common with its oil counterpart. However, by definition it definitely is alternative energy. It is better for the environment than the burning of oil, it is an alternative to the use of oil, and it has the potential to be much more affordable than oil. In almost every regard, it is a stellar source of alternative energy. While the price of natural gas is still slightly higher than the price of the other alternative energy source on this list, it is at a record low in the United States and is likely to become cheaper still in the months to come.

The Verdict

The plain and simple of it all is that alternative energy is quickly becoming just as affordable and even more affordable than traditional sources of electricity. It is also far more abundant than fossil fuels and much easier to turn into electricity. It is also less damaging to the environment and just as efficient. All in all, alternative energy is one of the cheapest electricity options in the United States. It is sure to continue growing in popularity during the next decade and become even cheaper still.

 Sam Jones the author of this article studies the energy market to advise on how to find the best electricity providers. He recommends uSwitch price comparison website as a great resource for finding the cheapest energy tariffs.

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