WIND POWER HOMES
Another popular alternative energy source is wind power. Wind power homes are extremely common especially with those who are utilizing solar power systems. For those cloudy days, windy days, vice versa, the obvious back up to a solid solar power system (see home solar power) is a wind power system.
WIND ENERGY EXPLAINED
Wind energy is actually solar energy that has been converted. Let me explain. As the sun heats the earth it does so at in different rates. This heat is absorbed by land at a different rate than water does. As we all know, hot air rises, cool air falls. This air temperature differences create air pressure differences, thus creating wind.
The motion of this wind is referred to as kinetic energy. This kinetic energy when moved over the blades of the common windmill can in turn be transferred into electrical energy. A windmill, or wind turbine is the heart of a wind power home. This electrical energy is no different then that which is created by solar panels and can be used to power anything that requires electrical energy for use.
Watts are the measurement unit used for electricity generation. Watts are very small units, so you may have heard of the term kilowatt (kw), or 1000 watts, which is the common measurement of electrical generation and consumption. The meters on the outsides of any home tied to the electrical grid are designed to measure kilowatt-hours. A kilowatt-hour basically would mean that 1000 watts of energy was used over a time period of one hour. An example for clarity could be this: A 100 watt light bulb that was left on for 10 hours would consume 1000 watts or 1 Kilowatt (KW) of energy.
The meter that determines your electric bill every month tracks this very accurately and reliably. In the world of solar and wind power homes, the amount of kilowatt hours that are used from our electric companies can be significantly reduced, which of course means reducing your monthly electric bill. Besides producing electricity for common household items, home wind systems can be tied to water pumps, commonly used on farms for irrigation.
Without diving too deeply into electrical theory behind wind power generators, the basic rule is simple: the higher the wind speed for a given turbine size, the higher the electrical output. There are of course varying differences when it comes to output capacity of a wind powered generator. The size of the blades, the pitch of the blades and the gear box (if applicable) all make up the speed at which the rotor within the electrical generator turns. The higher the speed of the rotor, the higher the electrical output.
OPTIONS FOR THE HOMEOWNER
Wind power is a healthy alternative to traditional “grid electricity”. There are countless types of “home windmills” that are available. For the Do-It-Yourself type, most of the parts and plans behind construction of the residential type units can be purchased at a reasonable price and can be used to quickly build a quality, reliable wind powered generator. There are other high ticket systems designed to be used on large plots of land where the option to build tower-like units is practical. These units also come in various sizes and ratings depending on the need and typically are built by companies that specialize in that technology.
As the “green / renewable energy” industry becomes increasingly popular and more mainstream, home owners worldwide will be looking for ways to tap into this technology, both for the money savings and for the opportunity to “do their part” in helping the environment. The idea of wind power homes is in its infancy. In the years to come, home owners will be looking for alternative energy sources because of continually increasing energy costs and simply because “it just makes sense.”