Is my house ready for a small wind energy system? Let's do a walk through! Part I

By
Mortgage and Lending with GLREA

Pick up any newspaper across the US these days and I will bet you a dollar to a donut you will find at least one article about energy. It is also very likely you will find at least one article about Wind Energy in particular.

Wind is very exciting! Wind is CLEAN ENERGY!

It is a very powerful feeling to leave a house and know the homeowner is producing their own energy!!! They have their own private power plant!!!

I smile as my phone rings with calls from consumers inquiring about wind. It gives me a chance to share what I have learned and it is rare when I don't learn something from the party on the phone.

I also hear questions that tell me there is confusion being created by so many articles, points of view and the variety of wind energy systems available.

Centerpoint Energy Completion Estimates Texas

 

 

 

This is a map from KHOU in Houston showing Centerpoint Energy's expected completion of power restoration in the areas of Texas affected by IKE. (I hope Stephanie is fairing ok!)

Something I hear quite often is that people expect with a wind energy system they will have power in times of outages like this.

I have to explain that is not necessarily so.

 

 

There are basically two different types of connections with residential wind generators

1. off grid - Georgina and Pete can probably give a lot of help with this! Off the grid systems require some type of battery storage for the energy created.

2. grid tied - the majority of small wind energy systems feed the energy produced to the power company. These are required to have an automatic shut off when the grid is down. Otherwise, you could produce energy and feed it back to the grid while some poor line worker is trying to restore power to your neighbors. The poor line worker would get a heck of a shock!

So this takes care of misconception #1.

The majority of wind energy systems my company installs are Grid Tied. For most households the best source of backup power is the electric companies grid! Why? There will be times when the wind doesn't blow so you won't create any energy and for the average household the draw will normally be more than their wind generator can produce.

Now the conversation moves toward, "So then I can sell the extra I make to the electric company?"**

Well...another deep subject! (sorry, I had to say it!)

This is where I play badminten and volley the shuttlecock back over the net,

"How many kilowatts a month (year) do you use?"

Wow! you would think I asked a question about the periodic table. It's unfortunate...most people simply don't know.

I must confess, I never knew until I got into this field and that's ok! I know now! (and obviously this family needs to work on some things!!!) and this is what is important! Awareness is half the battle!

So help me out here...How many average kilowatts does your household use in a year? There are a couple of ways to find out.

1. Many utility companies now have an online site where you can check your history. You will need to register and will normally you will need your billing handy because you will need your account number and some other personal information. I have found this to be the simplest way.

2. If you don't have access to the internet you can go through your records of paper bills (ugh!) add the kilowatt hours you have used over "x" number of months, divide by "x" number of months and walla! you have an average. The kilowatt hours on my bill - Consumers Energy - are listed in the upper right hand corner. Each utility will vary where place kilowatt hours on the bill.

3. If you can't access the internet or paper billing records you will have to call your utility company (double ugh!) and have them send it to you. This is always last resort!

In climates like Michigan and other parts of the midwest it is good to get a 12 month average.

Why? We use a fair amount of air conditioning in the summer, which is electric. Most of our homes are heated with some type of gas or fuel oil so the electric utility is normally lower during winter months. A twelve month average works best.

One note (I have to get my rant in...) Many people pay their utilities on a "budget" program. There are several reasons I disagree with this plan. The most important reason is that people tend to look at the dollar amount of their bill and not the kilowatt hours used. If the bill stays the same for 10 months out of the year most people are unaware of times when they are using more energy.

This causes less conservation again due to unawareness. (read: higher utility bills)

So I'll just wait right here while you go get that information! This is the really important part!! Then we can get on to part II and find out,

 "Is your home ready for a small wind energy system?"

Contractors Building Supply SkyStream Small Wind Energy System

 

**Currently 30 states require net metering. If you can't wait the American Wind Energy Association has a nice write up on net metering and explains each states policy!

COPYRIGHT © 2008 Mary McGraw-Bigelow All Rights Reserved

Picture: SkyStream 3.7 Small Wind Energy System, Manistee, Michigan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Patrick Walsh 10/31/2008 04:45 PM
  2. ASHEVILLE 1031 PROPERTIES RESOURCES & REFERRALS 12/30/2008 12:47 PM
Topic:
Home Improvement
Groups:
ECO-ALL-STARS & "BOOMERS"
Going Green!
Greater GRAND RAPIDS, MI Real Estate
Kent County MI Real Estate
Michigan Real Estate
Tags:
wind energy system
alternative energy
average utility costs
energy efficiency
awea
clean energy
michigan wind net metering

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Show All Comments
Rainer
8,703
A S
Salt Lake City, UT

Mary,  Excellent post!  I only wish we had enough wind in Salt Lake City to make a turbine an efficient choice, but we do not.  If we did I would have added a turbine several years ago. 

Oct 17, 2008 12:32 PM #16
Rainer
71,326
Patt M. Judd
First Realty Company - Cookeville, TN
Realtor - Your Cookeville Connection

this is great i am very interested in this , could you sent me any other information on this or solar panels, thank you

Oct 21, 2008 12:33 PM #17
Rainer
83,712
Mary Bigelow
GLREA - Coopersville, MI
2010 Letnulls Do It AGAIN!!!!

HI Andrew! New technology like the Mariah might make this possible for you! This generator starts at lower sustained winds (8mph) and can make this a great alternative supplement for you! They will be worth keeping an eye on and exploring more! Thanks!

Oct 25, 2008 09:36 AM #18
Rainer
83,712
Mary Bigelow
GLREA - Coopersville, MI
2010 Letnulls Do It AGAIN!!!!

Hi Patt!

Sorry for the delay in my response. I will send you some resources so you can get more information on these exciting technologies. It's critical to our nation's economy and health that we start implementing clean choices!

Oct 25, 2008 09:37 AM #19
Rainer
8,703
A S
Salt Lake City, UT

Mary,

I will keep an eye out, because I am hoping for a system someday. Problem with SLC is that we have a majority of days with less than 1-2 mph sustained winds.  Hence our terrible winter inversions.  The inversions are pretty bad for solar in the winter as well.  We need to clean our air here!

Oct 25, 2008 12:30 PM #20
Rainer
83,712
Mary Bigelow
GLREA - Coopersville, MI
2010 Letnulls Do It AGAIN!!!!

Hi Andrew -

Check out the video on the Mariah Windspire. The testing on this unit was done in Utah.

 

Oct 26, 2008 03:33 PM #21
Rainer
8,703
A S
Salt Lake City, UT

Thanks!  I can't believe I had 't seen these.  I am looking into it!

Oct 28, 2008 11:54 PM #22
Rainer
13,170
Patrick Walsh
Keller Williams Arizona Realty - Tempe, AZ
Realtor, CNE, Green - Tempe Arizona Real Estate

Hi Mary,

This is a fantastic post.  Thanks for posting it.  I'm going to reblog!

Best,

Patrick

Oct 31, 2008 04:44 PM #23
Rainer
83,712
Mary Bigelow
GLREA - Coopersville, MI
2010 Letnulls Do It AGAIN!!!!

Hi Patrick! Thank you! Maybe I can finally get part II up this weekend so we can start the number crunching process! Happy Halloween!

Oct 31, 2008 05:23 PM #24
Rainmaker
89,306
Lynn Krogseng
Keller Williams Premier Partners - Vancouver, WA

Great information Mary! I've been looking at the details of my utility bills.  It's helped me be much more efficient around our home.  In fact, it was how we discovered an 'electricity' leak caused by bad wiring from previous owners.  We live pretty conservatively, and I enjoy being able to measure it!

Nov 01, 2008 12:43 AM #25
Rainer
83,712
Mary Bigelow
GLREA - Coopersville, MI
2010 Letnulls Do It AGAIN!!!!

Hi Mike - thanks for the compliments. Love to hear more about your group although I am no longer doing loans - just can't get that category off my profile!! I'll check out your referral group!

Is your home ready for small wind?

Nov 24, 2008 10:04 PM #26
Rainer
83,712
Mary Bigelow
GLREA - Coopersville, MI
2010 Letnulls Do It AGAIN!!!!

Hi Lynn - great! Very soon I will write part II!

I was very pleased when I realized we have dropped 20 - 30% off our utility bills simply by being more conscious and making simple changes. Still a long way to go but there are so many simple changes that can be made!!! Great job!

Nov 24, 2008 10:08 PM #27
Rainmaker
545,141
Diane Daley
Caron's Gateway Real Estate - Northumberland, NH

We have a couple off the grid homes using wind in Coos County of NH now.  It's wonderful.... thanks for sharing

Jan 09, 2009 08:29 AM #28
Rainer
37,416
Frances Sanderson
Bean Group / Franklin - Franklin, NH

Hi Mary,

Here in my part of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (my utility company) will help you determine if your location will work with a wind turbine. All you have to do is ask. For those around the country, however, a good place to start is the Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the United States. http://rredc.nrel.gov/wind/pubs/atlas/

They show where the the wind currents are strongest and where wind energy could be a viable alternative energy source for you. Don't forget to check if your local municipality offers property tax exemptions for renewable energy installations, as well, at www.dsireusa.org.

Frances Sanderson, Franklin, NH  REALTOR®, Certified EcoBroker®

Jan 10, 2009 09:21 AM #29
Rainer
83,712
Mary Bigelow
GLREA - Coopersville, MI
2010 Letnulls Do It AGAIN!!!!

Hi Frances - Great resource to check! You may be surprised to find that your site may be worse or better than your neighbors! These maps can be a great resource but they are much like doing an online survey that you may fill out to find out if "broadband" works in your area.

Much better, if you are truly interested and ready to spend the money on wind, to consult with your closest professional!!! Wind comes into play...but so do buildings, trees and other obstructions!

'09 will be fine!

Jan 15, 2009 02:03 AM #30
Rainer
83,712
Mary Bigelow
GLREA - Coopersville, MI
2010 Letnulls Do It AGAIN!!!!

Caron's - you are welcome! I too, have an engineer on my staff who is living off the grid! That is a BIG committment! Most times it is better to live "on the grid" than off!

I'm curious! No one has told me yet what their average kilowatt hours per moth are??? Any takers???

If not...I will try a survey to find out!!! THEN, and only then....will I get on to part II!

Jan 15, 2009 02:09 AM #31
Rainer
79,738
Richard R. Bell
Richard Bell - Windermere Peninsula Properties - Belfair, WA
Broker-Manager, Allyn - Belfair Washington State Realtor

I enjoyed reading and learning something new. I have seen the large wind turbines in the eastern part of the State of Washington. Your post has me thinking how it can be applied to the West Side of the State. Great Post.

Jan 15, 2009 08:59 PM #32
Rainer
83,712
Mary Bigelow
GLREA - Coopersville, MI
2010 Letnulls Do It AGAIN!!!!

Hi Richard~ I'm glad to share some information! Education is key to understanding practical applications of renewable energy. If you are interested, read about the jobs that small wind has the potential to bring to the West Side of Washington. You can read about it here at Good Jobs, Green Jobs! Stay tuned! We're going to talk about those kilowatt hours soon!

Jan 16, 2009 04:48 AM #33
Anonymous
Anonymous
wind energy

It is nice that number of wind energy systems are availble.

May 06, 2009 06:03 AM #34
Rainer
83,712
Mary Bigelow
GLREA - Coopersville, MI
2010 Letnulls Do It AGAIN!!!!

Yes! Isn't it great! It's one of the waves of the future!

May 08, 2009 06:48 PM #35
Anonymous
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Rainer
83,712

Mary Bigelow

2010 Letnulls Do It AGAIN!!!!
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