How to Lower Your Electric Bill by Installing Small Wind Turbines

How to Lower Your Electric Bill by Installing Small Wind Turbines

How to Lower Your Electric Bill by Installing Small Wind Turbines

Installing small wind turbines can help lower your electricity bills by generating clean, renewable energy right at your home. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to maximize energy bill savings with small wind power.

What Are Small Wind Turbines?

Small wind turbines, also known as residential wind turbines, are wind energy systems designed for homes, farms, and small businesses. Unlike large commercial wind turbines, small wind turbines:

  • Have power outputs below 100 kW
  • Are much smaller in size (20-60 feet tower height)
  • Can be installed on rooftops or in backyards
  • Cost between $3,000 to $50,000 installed

The small blades spin in the wind, converting kinetic energy into usable electricity. The power output depends on the turbine size and wind speeds in your area.

Key Benefits of Small Wind Turbines

Installing a residential wind turbine offers many benefits:

  • Lower electricity bills – Wind turbines generate free renewable energy to offset your usage
  • Energy independence – Reduce reliance on the utility grid
  • Low maintenance – Require little ongoing maintenance compared to solar panels
  • Tax credits & incentives – Qualify for rebates and tax credits in many states
  • Easy installation – Smaller turbines install without large cranes on short towers
  • Grid connection – Works alongside your existing utility connection

Factors That Impact Energy Savings

Several key factors determine the energy bill savings from a home wind turbine:

Average Wind Speeds

  • Turbines need consistent annual wind speeds above 9 mph to be effective
  • The higher your wind speeds, the more power the turbine will generate

Turbine Size

  • Larger diameter blades capture more wind energy
  • Choose a turbine size optimal for your location’s wind resource

Energy Usage Levels

  • The more energy you use, the greater the savings from displaced utility power
  • Average home usage is 10,000 – 12,000 kWh/year

Electricity Costs

  • If your utility rates are high, a wind turbine saves more money
  • Average residential rate is $0.12 – $0.17/kWh nationally

Financial Incentives

  • Tax credits and rebates can reduce your upfront installation costs
  • This increases the cost-effectiveness of your wind turbine

How Much Can You Save from a Small Wind Turbine?

Most homeowners save 10% – 40% on their electricity bill with a properly sited wind turbine.

For example, a home using 12,000 kWh/year with electricity at $0.15/kWh pays $1,800 annually. A $15,000 turbine generating 30% of their usage would save $540/year.

It would take about 28 years to recoup the turbine investment through utility bill savings. Tax credits can improve the payback period to 10 years or less.

Actual savings depend on your specific conditions. Use an online calculator to estimate savings based on your energy use, wind speeds, turbine model, incentives, and utility costs.

Choosing the Right Turbine Size

Picking the optimal wind turbine size for your needs ensures maximum energy production. Follow these guidelines:

  • For average residential needs, a 2-5 kW turbine is appropriate
  • Size up to 10 kW for larger homes with big electricity demands
  • Have professional assessment to pick size based on location wind speeds
  • Match size to your average electricity consumption
  • Bigger is not always better – oversized units will not maximize savings

Additionally, check your utility’s policies on connecting renewable energy systems to the grid. Most allow systems up to 10 kW or less.

Top Small Wind Turbine Models

Here are some of the best small wind turbines for residential use based on ratings and reviews:

  • Bergey Excel 10 – 10 kW, most popular for homes
  • Southwest Windpower Skystream – 2.4 kW, for grid-connected homes
  • Gaia-Wind 11 kW – Larger 11 kW turbine for big properties
  • UGE VisionAir – 3 kW vertical axis turbine, simple design
  • Windspot 3.5 – Roof-mountable 3.5 kW turbine

Research manufacturers thoroughly and compare warranties. Look for an established company with a long performance history.

Key Factors for Installation

Proper installation is crucial for maximizing turbine performance. Consider these key factors:

Tower Height

  • Mount on minimum 60 ft guyed tower for good wind access
  • Greater heights capture stronger, steadier winds

Positioning

  • Place upwind of buildings and obstructions
  • Point prevailing wind direction into rotor for best production

Foundation

  • Pour concrete pad to reinforce tower base
  • Anchor guy wires deeply for support in high winds

Electrical Integration

  • Wire into breaker panel with appropriate overcurrent protection
  • Grid-tie inverters safely sync turbine power to utility connection

Permits and Zoning

  • Verify your local codes and HOA requirements if needed
  • Acquire relevant permits for installations over a certain height

Consult a small wind professional to ensure proper siting based on your property and wind resource.

Steps to Install Your Wind Turbine

Follow these key steps to safely install your new home wind turbine:

  1. Research permits, incentives, zoning rules, and utility policies in your area
  2. Select an appropriate wind turbine model and tower height for your location
  3. Choose an open, elevated site upwind of obstructions with good wind flow
  4. Hire a qualified installer to assess your property and pull required permits
  5. Pour a reinforced concrete pad and anchor guy wire tie downs
  6. Erect the tower sections with guy wires for support and stability
  7. Hoist and secure the turbine atop the tower according to manufacturer specs
  8. Wire underground to your breaker panel through appropriate overcurrent devices
  9. Connect grid-tie inverter, controllers, and monitoring systems
  10. Have the installer test proper operation and commission the wind turbine
  11. Perform regular maintenance and enjoy lower energy bills!

With the right planning and execution, installing a small wind turbine is a great way to lower your home electricity costs while contributing clean renewable power. Carefully consider the factors and follow professional installation steps for best results.