Despite governmental changes and lower natural gas prices, renewable energy use continues to rise. Just this past March, for the first time in history, wind and solar energy generated 10 percent of the total monthly electricity in the United States. So that brings the question, how fast will wind-powered heat use rise?
Surprisingly, windmills produce 8 of that 10 percent. That’s right, for utilities and large-scale use, wind is actually outpacing solar.
This seems unexpected, since solar dominates residential installations. But it makes sense when you consider the use of wind turbines has been growing by 25 percent per year over the past decade.
And though this growth may slow at the municipal level due to changing government initiatives, U.S. citizens are still committed to using clean energy sources. In fact, “63 percent [of U.S. residential consumers] are very concerned about climate change and their personal carbon footprints,” according to a 2017 Deloitte Resources Study. And of those, 25 percent intend to use wind power.
If, like them, you’re in the market to reduce your heating bill, as well as lower your energy consumption, you may be asking yourself this:
While there’s not yet an efficient way to turn wind power directly into heat for your home, it is possible to use small wind systems to produce a portion of your electricity — and therefore offset your electric bill — not just during the winter months, but all year long.
Well, there are a couple, and to understand them, you first need to understand how wind energy works.
A small wind system consists of a wind turbine — the part that looks like an airplane’s propellers — which is attached to a tower that is 80 feet tall on average for home installations. The height of the tower allows the turbine to take advantage of the faster wind speeds at higher elevations.
The turbine’s blades spin at about 18 rotations per minute as the wind blows. This turns a rotor shaft attached to a gear box that increases the speed of the rotor to 1,800 rotations per minute. The attached generator then produces clean electricity. This electricity is then fed into the house through the breaker panel.
In this application, the home is served by both the electrical grid and the wind system. That way, you’ll still have electricity on low-wind days and purchase less power from the utility on high-wind days.
For this type of small wind system to work properly, however, you must be install it in a windy area with plenty of open space to ensure nothing impedes the wind flow into the turbine. And by windy area, I mean an area that averages winds of 13 miles an hour. Otherwise, the windmill will be ineffective.
So, basically, you need a lot of space and a lot of wind to successfully use a wind system.
For most urban homes, this means wind power is not a good option. But if you live in a windy, rural area, a small wind system can be very effective. In the right setting, a wind turbine could reduce your utility bills by as much as 90 percent. It can also lessen the pollution associated with normal electric use.
Now that you know the caveats of installing a residential wind system, here are some pros and cons:
Wind-powered heat and energy isn’t ideal for everyone. But under the right circumstances, it can help lessen your utility bill and make your carbon footprint significantly smaller.