If I had to pick any of the renewable energy methods when starting out again I would start out with building a wind generator. If you were to compare the cost of building solar panels to the cost of building a wind generator you would see that the wind generator options costs about 20% of the solar panel option. To cost to build solar panels that will produce 1000 watts would be around $900 while the cost of a wind generator is only $150 - $200.
That being said, you will need to live in an area where you get at least 12MPH winds in order to run your wind generator though. For most people it shouldn't be a problem; however, there are some places where the wind simply doesn't blow very much.
A wind generator is made up of three "main parts": the motor, the blades and tail, and the tower. The tower can be found for free. Simply drive around your neighborhood looking for somebody who has a satellite dish and a television tower. Ask them if you can have their TV tower. In most cases they'll say yes and in some cases they'll give you money to tote it away (we got $50 when we removed our friends tower).
The motor is fairly easy to find. Simply log on to eBay and do a search for ametek motors. They're not always listed, but you should be able to find one if you keep searching. You'll want one that produces 24 - 48 volts at around 400 - 600 RPM's.
The blades and tail are also very easy to find. Go to a construction site and see if they have any left over 6 or 8 inch blue sewer pipe. You'll only need a piece that's 6 feet long or so, and many times they'll give it to you for free. The tail is made out of a piece of steel rod and a triangular cut piece of plastic. You can find these items at your local hardware store. Make sure to pick up some UV paint to paint the blades and tail piece with. Being constantly exposed to the sun can make the blades brittle and the UV paint protects against that.
You will need some other nuts and bolts from the hardware store as well as a flange so that you can mount the wind generator on the TV tower. TV towers are great because they have a nice 2 ince hole in the top which makes mounting a cinch.
Like I always say "if we can do it, than anyone can". If you can handle a jig saw and follow instructions then you'll have no problem building a wind generator.