Green Remodeling: Are Wind Turbines Realistic Options?
Every fall, my husband and I enjoy checking out homes that participate in an annual eco home tour. Many of the homes are beautiful inside and out and employ the latest in gee-whiz green gadgetry. But in six years of tours, we've only seen one home with a wind turbine. They're rare, even in a community such as ours where money and environmental consciousness are plentiful.
Wind Turbine Systems
But given federal tax rebates of 30 percent for solar panels and wind turbines (for a savings up to $1,500), that is changing, according to a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor. People are taking a second look at wind turbines as a clean and inexpensive source of energy. If you've got the land for one, and you plan to live in your home for many years, it might make sense for you.
Dave Moody, director of field marketing for Service Experts Inc., a heating and cooling company with 120 branches nationwide, told the Monitor that tax credits have certainly boosted consumer interest: "It's having the desired intent," he said. "It's driving people toward energy conservation and more efficient appliances, from our observation."
However, more consumers would take advantage of the tax credits if information about them was wider spread "The tax code is very confusing," Moody told the Monitor. "It can take some time for consumers to take advantage [of the credits]." He advised that prospective buyers speak with a tax expert before purchasing anything.
Wind Turbine System Costs
A wind system typically costs between $6,000 and $22,000 installed, according to the American Wind Energy Association. It takes between six and 15 years to recoup your investment, depending on your energy needs and the average wind speed where you live.
The AWEA says energy bills can be reduced on average by 50 to 90 percent with the installation of a wind system. That's not much different than solar panels, an apparently sexier alternative, given their much greater popularity. Albeit, solar panels work in tight urban and small suburban lots, whereas a wind system does not.
Turbines have been installed in 47 states, but are most popular in the Northeast and Midwest. The numbers look intriguing to me, though I don't know if my own urban lot is big enough. If you're thinking about solar, it certainly seems worth asking whether wind is an as good or better option.
Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.