With the growth of energy-saving and alternative energy, developments in the windmill industry make it easier than ever for homeowners to supplement their energy needs with their own windmill. Here are some pointers to help you determine whether a windmill is right for you:
Is there enough wind? The U.S. Department of Energy has compiled information about wind patterns for most of the U.S. they offer comprehensive maps and wind resource guides for most states at their website. The industry jargon for residential wind power is "Small Wind." This defines the type of windmill that is appropriate for residential and small-scale applications.
Does it pay to add wind power to my home systems? Take a look at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) where you can find out what incentives would apply from federal and state programs.
What new options are available? Some "Vertical Axis" turbines have been successful in residential settings and are designed to work at lower elevations and with less distance from the home. One company, PacWind, offers the option of stacking or spread multiple turbines in a residential setting, because they are relatively small, require little maintenance and are easy to install (see left).
Another more traditional-style horizontal wind turbine has been developed for residential use by Sky Stream Energy designed for utility connected residential use. Their Skystream 3.7 wind generators (right) include built-in controls and inverters, and begin producing power in 8mph breezes.
What else should I know? You’ll need to check with local code enforcement to determine what the requirements are for installing a wind turbine. Some communities have height restrictions and minimum lot size requirements. You’ll also want to check with your local utility to determine their policies for buy back and hooking into the power grid.