Can you host a website on your home computer?
Probably at some point or another you had the idea to just host your website on your home computer so you could save some money — I know I have. It is an interesting idea and you will definitely learn a lot, but should you do it?
How much work will it be?
It will probably take a while to figure out how to setup Apache, PHP, MySQL and anything else you might want. Also, you'll need to spend some time securing your server, so you are not at risk of being hacked. And if something doesn't seem to be working right, there's no 24/7 support to turn to. On the other hand, it could be a great way to learn more about web hosting and how it works.
Can your ISP handle it?
Your probably thinking "Well sure it can, I've got a super ultra high speed internet connection." The problem is, your download speed doesn't really matter for hosting. What is really important is your upload speed. Everytime someone visits your site, your site will have to be uploaded through your connection. Visit a site like SpeedTest.net to test out your upload speed. If you've got a high speed connection, you want your upload speed to be the same or better than your download speed. If not, your site is going to seem slow to anyone with a high speed connection. In addition, some ISPs have a rule that says you are simply not allowed to host websites through their connection.
How much will you actually save?
Where I live, energy costs between $0.17 and $0.30 per Kilowatt hour depending on the time of year and time of day. That means, if you have a 300 watt computer (which is pretty standard) you are paying (300 * (24*30)) / 1000 * $.17 = $36.72 a month at least! These days you could get a real quality hosting plan with high uptime and 24/7 support for only $5.95 a month. That means it's actually cheaper to pay for a hosting plan. Granted, you would have your computer on some of the time anyway, but even so, the savings is huge!
The Bottom Line
If you're the adventurous type and want a challenge, then go for it! It could be a great learning experience! But if you just want the hard stuff to be taken care of for you, want to save money and want help an email away at anytime of the day, then a quality hosting plan is the only way to go.