July 4, 2008

Is installing residential wind power financially practical?

I personally think that wind power is a great idea. It has a fixed cost, theres no dependence on a foregin producer and it is environmentally friendly. In recent years wind power has become pretty practical economically. Wind power installations are growing pretty fast nationally.

Most wind power is in the form of giant windmills built by electric utilities. These are out in remote areas with substantial amounts of wind and cost in the range of $1 million each to make. But small wind turbines can also be bought and installed at residences and farms. Individuals can use wind to supplement their own power needs. But is a small wind turbine a practical financial choice?

The U.S. Department of Energy has a site about small wind installations for consumers. The guide has a lot of information and it covers the topic well.

Key factors that might make small wind practical:
Availability of wind.
Having enough land to install a tower
Whether or not zoning permits towers
The initial cost of the small wind installation.

Wind is probably not practical for >80% of U.S. residential customers due to lack of wind, lack of land or because of zoning limits. But if you live in an area with substantial wind, have some acreage then it might be worth investigating. I'd keep in mind however that costs for small wind installations run $3000 and up to $50,000.

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