photo courtesy of Aquatic Ponds


As someone who enjoys nature, I have felt the desire to add a koi pond with a waterfall to my landscaping. This seems like an ultimate way to escape to nature without having to venture too far away from my home. After a stressful day at work, relaxing beside a small waterfall watching fish seems like a great way to wind down without having to drive, eating up the free hours of my evening by deal with traffic.

But the nature lover in me also feels a strong need to avoid adding to energy consumption and pollution. I know that electricity is largely provided by burning fossil fuels, or natural gas that comes from fracking, or hydro-electric which is produced by damming rivers. All of these sources of electricity leave me uncomfortable. And historically, using alternative energy sources have been unreliable or expensive. Is there a way to reconcile this?

Nowadays alternative energy solutions are becoming economical and readily available. One simple source of local electricity could come from harnessing the wind. Simple wind turbines are now available to produce electricity, but that might be overkill for something as small as a backyard water feature.

Not that long ago, adding solar power to a small project like powering a water pump for an aquatic pond was simply cost prohibitive. But solar voltaics have become so cost effective and reasonable there is virtually no reason to avoid them. In 2016 the price per solar Kw reached a record low of $3.57 on average making it cheaper than fossil fuels, but when used for small projects, like a backyard water feature, the one-time cost of equipment can be paid for in the first 2 years of savings, making all use after that essentially free. Additionally, you no longer have to be an engineer or scientist to install solar devices. They are easy to install and use.

Spending a couple hundred dollars upfront for solar equipment, including a battery for night use,  will add to the initial cost of such a project, but the fact that you won’t see a spike in your power bill will offset that initial investment. This makes running the electric pump to keep a waterfall flowing and the water clean an easy decision to make.

This could also inspire the adoption of additional solar projects once the convenience and economics of using solar are seen first hand, or lead to the construction of a wind turbine tree. If a waterfall can run on sunlight, why not the rest of the house? Next thing you know, installing a water feature leads to putting a solar roof and eliminating the electric bill entirely.

Furthermore, a quality water feature in your yard improves the value of your home. If you choose to sell your house, having a backyard pond can separate your home from competing houses, not only improving its value, but its saleability. The housing market has become more robust recently, after a long stagnation from the crash of 2008. But if you want to get top dollar for your home and distinguish it, even in a strong seller’s market, little things like a zen oasis in your backyard can make the difference.

But a water feature isn’t merely about adding value to your home, it’s about adding value to your life. Whether you sell your house or live out your life in your home, having a convenient retreat right outside your door can add quality to your life without adding expense. Couple this with the peace of mind that running an electric motor doesn’t increase your carbon footprint and the zen from your retreat spot multiplies.

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