Residential Wind Turbines: Who Should Invest in Wind Energy?

Making the decision to invest in a residential wind turbine involves numerous factors across a broad spectrum of concerns, both environmental and financial. In the most practical sense, the people in the best position to benefit from a home wind turbine will meet the following criteria.

Live in an Area with Good Wind Resources

Good wind resources mean a constant supply of steady wind at a rate of 10 mph or greater. Not all wind is equal, and adjacent structures can cause turbulence that will affect the turbine's efficiency. Your best bet is to hire a professional to conduct a site assessment that will determine the suitability of the location as well as optimal turbine placement on the site.

Have a Minimum of One Acre of Land

An acre of land is needed both to ensure the turbine can be placed at least 250 feet from your neighbors, but also to provide adequate room for guide wires to stabilize the tower. You will likely require a tower ranging in height from 80 to 150 feet, which will need to meet local and state regulations for safety. There are roof-mounted turbine units now available with a lower profile, but they rarely reduce a home's electrical bill by more than 10%, whereas a full, tower-mounted turbine can bring your energy costs down by 50% to 90%.

Favorable Zoning Laws and HOA Covenants

Often the greatest hurdle to residential wind turbines are neighbors who don't want what they regard as an unsightly and potentially noisy nuisance living next door. Zoning ordinances will have to allow a residential installation of more than 80 feet in height. If you live in a neighborhood controlled by a homeowners association, you will need their approval as well.

Be prepared to be put in a position to "sell" your turbine to those who live around you. Also be aware that crowded, suburban areas often will not accommodate residential turbines because the adjacent structures cause too much wind turbulence.

Pay High Electrical Bills

Customers with the highest energy consumption will likely see the greatest reduction in their bills. However, unless you are paying at least 10 cents per kWh for electricity, a home turbine will not be cost effective. (Note that in 2010, the average national price per kWh is 12 cents.)

Others who can benefit from residential turbines are those whose property does not offer easy access to existing utility lines or who are interested in living with greater energy independence "off grid."

- On-grid wind systems are tied into the power company's electrical grid. On days with good wind, the house is powered by the turbine. On calm days, energy is purchased from the utility. If an excess of energy is produced, the utility is required by law to buy it from the turbine owner. An interconnection agreement with the utility will set up net metering for the home, measuring both electricity used and generated, an arrangement further lowering your electric bill.

- Off-grid wind systems are not tied into the power company grid, but are hooked up to back-up, deep-charge batteries where excess energy is stored to be used by the home when the turbine is not producing sufficient power. (Many homes with this configuration will also have a back-up, fuel-powered generator.)

Residential wind turbines can be found in virtually every state, with high concentrations in the Midwest and Northeast. They are unquestionably a source of clean, free energy that offsets, on average, 1.2 tons of pollutants, and 200 tons of greenhouse gases annually.

Small wind turbines do, however, represent a large initial outlay of money, with systems ranging from $6,000 to $45,000 and above depending on their energy-producing capacity and method of installation. Most companies claim that the turbines pay for themselves in 5 to 15 years, and the renewable energy systems do represent a viable property improvement in real estate terms.

If you think a residential wind turbine might be the renewable energy solution for which you've been searching, continue reading about the advantages and disadvantages of home wind power.

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One Response to “Residential Wind Turbines: Who Should Invest in Wind Energy?”

  1. Home Wind Energy: Advantages and Disadvantages Says:

    […] Residential Wind Turbines: Who Should Invest in Wind Energy? Will A Residential Wind Turbine Work for Me? […]

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