The earliest windmills were built in Babylon in 2000 B.C., according to the website Alternative-Energy-Sources. In 2010 A.D., the use of wind turbines has begun to spread in the United States, Europe and China. The U.S. alone is aiming to produce enough wind power for 25 million homes by the end of 2020, the American Wind Energy Association reports. When oil prices rise, wind energy grows in popularity, and more and more residential options are becoming available to cut electric bills and reduce dependence on coal and oil. Windmills can also generate energy to be stored for future use.
- Choose a turbine type of windmill. The horizontal axis wind turbine, or HAWT, has very efficient energy output because of the transfer from the rotators to the gear box. These turbines usually have exposure to higher wind velocity and produce more power because the tower is taller and they take up less space on the ground. Because of their height, installation is more of a problem. The vertical axis wind turbine, VAWT, has a gear box and generator at ground level, and the rotators are omni-directional. VAWT’s are not self-starting during a breeze, and their energy output is 40 percent lower than that of the HAWT.
- Arrange an interconnection agreement with your power company. Using wind power does not mean you will be off the power grid. You will still need to set up an agreement with your local power company to monitor the amount of energy that comes from your turbine on a separate meter. There is also a smart meter available that runs forward when using electricity in the standard way and backward as you draw electricity from wind power. It’s best to have a turbine installation company negotiate with your power company, because wind turbines are still relatively rare. You can store any unused energy on deep-charge batteries for future use.
- Perform regular maintenance. Residential wind turbines are built to last between 15 and 20 years, and annual repairs typically cost from 2 percent to 2.5 percent of the cost of the unit, according to the website How To Save Electricity. The most common maintenance issues are periodic oiling and lubrication of the blades and gears, but there is also a high chance of corrosion because of exposure to the elements and loose bolts from constant vibration. Electrical components should be checked by an electrician at least once a year, and fiberglass blades may need to be replaced or taped because of cracks. Also, monitor your electric bills for any unusual increases in price.