Wind Energy Information
Wind energy information will help prepare you for your meeting with vendors. Just like any kind of renewable resource, wind energy works better in some areas than in others. The first question you're going to have to ask is whether or not you live in an area where the wind resources are adequate. The US Department of Energy has wind resource maps that will tell you more. But, the wind resource maps are developed for large scale wind farms, they will not be accurate for the wind speed over your home. Wind turbines for homeowners are now efficient at lower wind speeds, 7-10 miles per hour, so the wind resource maps are a guideline or a starting point.
Determining Your Wind Speed
In order to have an efficient wind turbine, you need to determine the wind speed that is 30-40 feet above the highest obstacle (house, trees, etc) and within 500 feet of where you will place the tower. This is the recommendation of AWEA for the most productive wind turbine. This is particularly important if your wind turbine is the type with 2-3 blades. This type needs to face the wind in order to produce power.
To really have an accurate assessment of the wind speed above your home, an anemometer or wind data-logger will provide you with this data. Have this anemometer mounted 30-40 feet above the highest obstacle and 500 feet from any obstacle to evaluate your wind speed. Remember to estimate the growth of trees(within 500 feet of your tower) during the lifespan of your turbine. So, if your wind turbine has a lifespan of 20-30 years, you will need to estimate the tree growth for that time period or your power production will be impacted as your trees grow.
You may find that a small investment in a taller tower will have a significant increase in your power production.
Understanding the wind speed above your home and the proper placement of your turbine are the most important pieces of data in wind energy information. All your decisions will now be based on accurate data.
Rooftops and Turbines
Rooftop mounting seems like a good idea, but dependent on your wind turbine could cause some issues. The wind turbine with 2-3 blades needs to face the wind to be productive, this type of turbine vibrates and transmits those vibrations to its support structure or in this case, your home which causes noise and structural problems.
Vertical axis turbines have eliminated the vibration issues and capture the wind from any direction. Options for homeowners are available and the advances in this technology are growing rapidly. You will find a growing number of suppliers and a variety of different looking vertical turbines available.
Think about your neighbors, too. While wind turbines for residences have improved and no longer are associated with the previous noise problems, you neighbors may not be aware of the improvements. You may need to alleviate their concerns in order to get their support. Find out about the local laws and guidelines, and the noise issues that may surround your wind energy system.
Where's the Money?
How about financial incentives and financing? Wind systems aren't cheap after all, but you may be able to stretch the money you spend by taking advantage of federal, state and local incentives. Find out about net metering, too. You could continue to tie to the grid and sell excess power back to your local utility or receive a credit. Utility companies are also providing incentives to homeowners and businesses for purchasing alternative energy. To finance your wind power, try looking at an energy improvement mortgage, or a home equity financing method.
Maintenance while minimal for wind turbines, needs to be part of your equation. You'll need to know how to do your own maintenance, or hire someone else who's trained to do it for you. If you have an off grid system, battery cost and maintenance should also be taken into account.
I hope wind energy information will help you determine if wind energy is for you? As with any new technology, there are a lot of considerations from determining your wind speed which is the key to an accurate assessment, to determining your needs, location and placement concerns, return on investment, rebates and financing as well as community restrictions. Ask your vendor lots of questions and compare vendors products and services.
To move forward, begin with a comprehensive energy audit of your home and energy usage and reduce your usage as much as possible. This is the single most cost effective step you can take before purchasing any renewable energy solution. Admittedly, not the most glamorous or fun, but it will save money in all subsequent purchases.
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