How Can You Incorporate Wind Turbines Into Your Home To Save Energy?

Wind turbines can be used to power your home, and at a fraction of the cost of conventional power sources.

When most people think of windmills, they think of Holland 200 years ago. But did you know that in their 21st century, "wind turbines," as they're now called, can be used to power the average home, and at a fraction of the cost of conventional energy sources? Wind power may be an option for you. But what exactly is wind power?

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), wind power is really a type of solar energy. Wind occurs when warm air from the earth's surface rises and cool air rushes in to take its place. The AWEA says that a wind turbine can generate power dependent upon the turbine's size and capacity (or "power rating"). What this means to you is that a turbine of relatively small size - on a tower of perhaps 80 - 100 feet - can very easily power your home.

Turbine maker Michael Bergey, of the Bergey Windpower Company recently told "Home Power" magazine that wind power is an option for many American families. Although individual turbines are rated for capacity, performance varies considerably, says Bergey, according to where you live. So-called "wind resource maps," available through the U.S. Department of Energy, can tell you the average speed of wind in your area, an important first step when considering a turbine, according to Bergey. He also notes that in most flat areas (i.e. most of the Midwest), average wind speeds are very stable. But if you live in a hilly area, turbine makers will recommend a "wind survey," which can cost anywhere from $300 - $1000, according to Bergey, and take upwards of a year to complete. At the end of the survey, however, you will know if wind power will work for your home.

Noting that the average home would require a 10 kilowatt turbine, the costs of such a windmill, according to Bergey, average anywhere from $28,000 to $35,000. The savings, however, can be considerable: Bergey cites the average electric bill of turbine owners as $8 to $30, compared to $100 - $200 for their counterparts still on the old-fashioned electric system. Once the initial cost of the equipment is paid off, it seems, wind turbines rack up the savings on a monthly basis in quick order.

Do you have room to install a turbine? Bergey suggests that the average turbine must rise 30 feet higher than any trees or buildings within 300 feet. For our purposes, with the 10kw turbine that will cover the average family, a tower of 80 to 120 feet is required. With an average wind speed of 10 miles per hour or more - something that can be determined through the U.S. Department of Energy for your area - and an acre or more to build it on, you would fulfill the basic requirements that most turbine makers recognize.

A final point for wind turbine construction is the consideration of state and local codes. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that anyone considering wind turbines first contact both their state and local building code authorities concerning any ordinances and building codes that must be followed. Also, talking with your power provider can help you decide if you can be connected to the local power grid, or if you want to attempt to be independent.

Wind turbines won't work everywhere. But they will, as we have seen, work very well in many situations. If you are interested in wind power as an alternative for your home, you can start the research process today. After all, windmills aren't just for 19th Century Dutch farmers anymore!

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