Let’s talk about home wind turbines and the grid. You’re probably here because you’re thinking about generating your own electricity, and home wind power has crossed your mind. Great! We here at Renewable Energy Methods would love to help. After all, who really wants to pay more on their utility bill than they have to? Small wind energy is renewable, non-polluting, and, in the right circumstances, can save you money.
Is wind power for you?
So is home wind power the right choice for you? The answer may surprise you because living in a windy area is not necessarily the most important factor. If you want to go off-grid and produce your own electricity, you almost certainly want to consider installing a home wind turbine. Even if your location is not overly windy.
If you want a wind turbine to realistically pay off your investment, you really need to live on at least an acre. Living in a rural area helps. If you’re in a residential neighborhood, you’re could run into conflicts with zoning permissions or neighbors. Saying that even if you have a modest garden a wind turbine can still reduce your electricity bill quite significantly. You want to ensure that if your neighbors live close they are OK with the noise and sight of your turbine. Maybe you could show them the benefits of one and get them to join the renewable energy revolution too!
There are guidelines laid out by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Guide to Small Wind Electric Systems, a free publication for homeowners available at the link below. It’s a great read even if you live outside the U.S. It gives you some great information on how to make your home more efficient. Installation and maintenance costs of a wind turbine and connecting to the grid are also included.
Renewable energy experts often recommend installing hybrid wind and solar energy systems for off-grid living. These systems work well because wind and solar energy tend to be most available at different times. If your main goal is energy self-sufficiency, you may want to be off the grid. You can do this by hooking your wind and solar power up to a simple battery system. Then use a battery inverter to tap this electricity straight into your home.
Connecting to the grid
But if you want to produce your own residential wind power, a grid-connected system can make a lot of sense. With this setup, on days when there is plenty of wind and your wind turbine produces more power than your home needs. That power then goes onto the local utility grid. When you need more power than you’re generating, you draw power from the grid as you normally would. Grid-connected systems are often cheaper. Because, without the responsibility of producing all of your own electricity, you can install a smaller, less expensive system. You can also go for a system that doesn’t use the battery pack and backup generator. So that means if you consistently generate more electricity than you need, you can actually get cash back from your electricity supplier. Turning your wind turbine into another form of cash flow for your home.
Let’s look at an example. Say you install a 5-kilowatt turbine for your home. You can expect to produce on average about 5000-kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy per year. This is about half of the average energy consumption of a U.S. household per year. Now if you install a couple of solar panels that produce another 5000 kWh a year you can cover your electricity costs for the year.
On top of this is you invest in home energy efficiency reducing your household energy consumption by 25-50%. Your house will require less energy than the average household. All of a sudden you’re producing more energy than you use. That equals profit once you pay off the initial investment. You can overproduce by 2500-5000 kWh a year resulting in hundreds of dollars/euro/pounds back in cash depending on your price of electricity.
Exactly how this relationship with the utility works depends on local regulations. Most grids have net metering regulations that help make grid connection a good deal for homeowners. Essentially, when you take electricity from your utility provider, your meter runs forward. When you put excess electricity into the grid, it runs backward. Pretty simple! Now just think of what you can do with all that extra cash if you get your electricity meter running backward.
Not sure where to start? Go to our top 5 free resources page to get you on your way to another cash flow for your home.