There's a new technology poised to change the way Americans produce and pay for electricity. Instead of bringing in power through electrical lines, homes are popping up with their very own backyard power plants. These units, called micro-trigeneration systems, use natural gas to create electricity, saving the consumer money on big expenses like air conditioning and heat while protecting homeowners from grid outages. Some of these units are just starting to hit the market, and someday soon they could transform neighborhoods across the country.

Game-Changing Technology

One commercial version of a micro-trigeneration system is being tested by the Texas-based construction company M Street Homes. Their unit can be fueled with natural gas, propane or renewable energy sources. It produces six kilowatts of electricity per day using a 22-horsepower engine. The motor charges a battery so the power can be used on-demand, and excess heat is captured and used to bolster the home's heating and hot water systems.

“We think this is a disruptive technology. It’s really a game-changer,” M Street Vice President Randy Erwin said to the Houston Business Journal. “It’ll basically cost the homeowner nothing to heat and cool his house.”

The devices also work seamlessly with smart home technology so they can run a home’s air conditioning and heat system as efficiently as possible, meaning that you save even more on your monthly bills. At a $26,000 initial price, they aren't cheap, but project to pay for themselves in savings over seven to nine years.

Where Can I Buy One?

Micro-trigeneration systems aren't a total panacea for your utility woes. Large houses would still need supplementary power sources to account for all the lighting, equipment and appliances that need power, so the technology isn't enough to truly separate homeowners from the grid just yet. And you still need to have a gas hookup or propane delivery to run the motor when sun and wind alone aren't doing it.

However, micro-trigeneration units still help homeowners save a bundle on their hefty air conditioning and heat bills – and allow them to keep the lights on and run other appliances in the event of a power outage or other interruption to the grid.

In the future, similar technologies could become even more useful as renewable energy generation capabilities improve, storage capacity is increased and the overall price tag comes down. Very productive units could even make a surplus of power and sell some back to the grid, earning a profit for the homeowner. For now, micro-trigeneration units are mostly a novelty, but in a few years, you might see them popping up next to new homes in your own community.

For advice on what new air conditioning and heat equipment is available in your area, or tips on how to limit your own utility bills, give a call to your friendly home services professional today. The experts at your local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® are always available to help! Contact us today.