solar panels

Solar panels being installed.Wind Energy

How do residential wind turbines work?


A wind turbine, which is installed on top of a tall tower, collects kinetic energy from the wind and converts it to electricity that is compatible with a home's electrical system.

In a normal residential application, a home is served simultaneously by the wind turbine and a local utility. If the wind speeds are below cut-in speed (7-10 mph) there will be no output from the turbine and all of the needed power is purchased from the utility. As wind speeds increase, turbine output increases and the amount of power purchased from the utility is proportionately decreased. When the turbine produces more power than the house needs, the extra electricity is sold to the utility. All of this is done automatically. There are no batteries in a modern residential wind system.

Small wind systems for remote applications operate somewhat differently.

Can I save money using a small wind turbine?

The wind turbine typically lowers your electricity bill by 50 to 90 percent. It is not uncommon for wind turbine owners with total-electric homes to have monthly utility bills of only $8 to $15 for nine months of the year. In northern parts of the country where less air conditioning is used the bills can be very low year-round. The amount of money a small wind turbine saves you in the long run will depend upon its cost, the amount of electricity you use, the average wind speed at your site, and other factors.

Solar panels being installed.What size turbine would I need for my home?


Homes use approximately 9,400 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year (about 780 kWh per month). Depending upon the average wind speed in the area, a wind turbine rated in the range of 5 to 15 kilowatts would be required
to make a significant contribution to meet this demand.

Who should consider buying a wind turbine?


A residential wind turbine can be a relatively large device and is not suitable for urban or small-lot suburban homes. Except for very small wind turbines (i.e., with rotors one meter or less in diameter) on very small towers, a property size of one acre or more is desirable.

The economics of a wind system are very sensitive to the average wind speed in the area, and to a lesser extent, the cost of purchasing electricity. As a general rule of thumb, if economics are a concern, a turbine owner should have at least a 10 mph average wind speed and be paying at least 10 cents/kWh for electricity.

Residential wind turbines have been installed in at least 47 of the 50 states, but the majority of the units have been installed in the Northeast and the Midwest.

Will it help the environment if I install a wind turbine at my home?


Yes. Wind turbines produce no pollution and by using wind power you will be offsetting pollution that would have been generated by your utility company. Over its life, a small residential wind turbine can offset approximately 1.2 tons of air pollutants and 200 tons of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and other gases which cause climate change).

Don't I have to take wind measurements for a year or more?


For most residential systems the cost of taking wind measurements is not justified. Wind resource data published by the U.S. Department of Energy is sufficient for an experienced evaluator to predict wind turbine performance. In very hilly or mountainous areas, however, it may be best to collect wind data before purchasing a system to ensure that your site is not in a sheltered area.

Use the Energy Audit Request Form on the home page to contact us or call (512) 863-3783 to get started today!