Creating energy from an existing water source is called hydropower. Utility companies have used water as an energy source for decades. When you see a dam across a river, you’re seeing hydropower in action. You can create much the same utility for your own home power use if you have an existing water source available.
There are hydropower turbines scaled down to a small size for individual home use that you can buy and set up to get off the grid and become independent of the power companies. Energy resources are free for anyone who knows how to harness their power. If you have a fast enough stream or river that you have the right to use, you can create enough power to fuel your needs.
Keep in mind that, when thinking hydropower, you need water that flows consistently at a good rate of speed, and you need it to flow all year round. In some cases, homeowners have an available water source, but it freezes in the winter or is prone to drought conditions and water loss. Those types of scenarios make water energy difficult or impossible, and it might be better to look at solar or wind power as an alternative energy resource. If you do have a solid water source available at least most of the year, consider using water power part-time to cut your dependency to the utility company, or eliminate it altogether using a combination of water and other alternative energy sources.
Get the drop on the utility companies by using alternative hydropower to create more energy than you use each month and selling back the excess. If you can only use hydropower part of the year, the money you earn can go to paying the utility bills the rest of the year and you still get free power.
Setting up a hydropower plant is a little more difficult than solar or wind powered energy systems. You have to deal with water that is hard to move out of the way so you can build a dam or install turbines. However, the results are very steady and reliable in the right conditions and well worth the effort of initial installation.
For low-water-flow hydropower, look for a turbine created to deal with lack of force such as the Harris Pelton Turbine. It is a water turbine designed to work in limited flow situations and creates between 1400W and 5000W of energy. 1400W is not enough to power your entire home if you have a great deal of energy needs. A typical 1400W generator will let you run a few lights, and charge a battery or two, but if you want to run appliances you should look into the larger models that can handle the increased demands. The Harris Pelton Turbine costs between $900 and $1,400 dollars for the unit depending on the power produced.
Other hydropower turbines average between $1,200 and $2,000 dollars. Those costs are just for the turbine and other aspects of building a water energy source are not included in them.
Once you have your dam built, there is little maintenance required other than normal servicing or replacement of turbines over time. If you engage in other back-to-basics activities such as growing your own food in gardens or orchards, you can use your dam to direct water toward those areas as well and get double the benefits from your labor and building costs.
Like any good alternative energy resource, water is a constant, renewable energy supply that will continue to provide you with the power you need to run your lives without depending on outside companies. That is the biggest advantage of all when you consider building a hydropower plant of your own.
Other articles in this issue:
- Taking Your Food Storage for a Test Drive 
- Indoor Safety Tips for Winter Storms 
- Raising Meat Rabbits: From the Country to the Big City