Renewable Energy – Lesson 7 – Wind Generators

Almost every day, one can find an article online or on the news or in print about the environment, living "green", pollution and the changing climate. While these articles deal with environmental issues on large scale perspectives, there are a number of aspects of the current state of the economy and environment that affect and are influenced by the average middle class citizen.

A good example of a current economic and environmental trend today is the growing popularity of the use of renewable energy sources to provide some if not all of the electrical power in private homes. While solar power is a very popular alternative renewable energy source, many people are also turning to wind power and wind generators to provide them with affordable electricity.

In many Midwest states, one can see examples of the large electric cooperatives using wind power to generate significant amounts of electricity. This wind power is produced by large "farms" of massive wind generators. These generators are essentially oversized propellers mounted on top of very tall towers. The wind turns the propellers which provides the kinetic energy which is turned into electricity.

All of these large generator farms are located in rural or semi rural areas. However, it is possible for people who live in towns and cities to have efficient wind generators. The residential wind generator is simply a downsized version of the larger generator. Most residential wind generators are mounted on top of 20 to 30 foot tall towers or on top of shorter towers mounted on the roof of the house. The tower is much less obtrusive than one would think and many are painted to blend in with the color scheme of the house. In some cases, zoning laws might restrict exactly how tall of a tower one may have, but in almost all cases the wind generator can be adapted to conform to the regulations.

Just as with solar panels, the wind generator can be tied into the house's electrical system and can provide electrical power directly to the house. While it is not generally advisable to try to go off the grid with a wind generator, one will usually be surprised at how much power it can produce on even a fairly calm day. The power the wind generator provides will be applied as a credit on the house's electric bill, and in many cases will be sufficient to zero out the bill. This can save a family thousands of dollars per year and also has the effect of reducing pollution by indirectly reducing the amount of fossil fuel needed to power the electrical grid.

In all, installing and using a residential wind generator is a smart move for financial and for environmental reasons. With the savings one will get from the reduction in utility costs, many people will be able to recover the cost of the system in the first year alone, and in some cases, there are tax credits available for people who make energy efficient improvements to their homes.

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