Could Texans go off the grid with home wind turbines?

July 15, 2020   By Jackie Whetzel

Could Texans go off the grid with home wind turbines?

Texans use more energy than any other state, but they also give their fair share back. Texas is the leading energy producer in the country, including leading the states in wind power production. The old adage that says everything is bigger in Texas is particularly true when it comes to wind farming – and home wind turbines – in the Lone Star State.

Texas had more than 10,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity in 2011, which was three times more than any other state. “If Texas were a country, it would rank fifth in the world for wind powered capacity,” an October 2019 article USA Today said.

Texas wind turbines

According to the most recent statistics, the Lone Star State currently has 14,929 wind turbines in operation. Wind-generated power has grown tremendously in recent years, as it has some of the lowest environmental impacts of any source of electricity.

Last year, the Dallas Morning News reported on a new wind energy farm to be developed in rural Concho County that would supply 168,000 homes with clean energy and add hundreds of temporary jobs in the area. The article also predicted that energy produced from wind farming could soon outpace coal energy production in Texas.

Large-scale wind farms such as the one in Concho County consist of sizable wind turbines with blades that can span the length of a football field. However, wind power can also be generated with smaller turbines, also known as home wind turbines.

Home wind turbines

While wind power is clearly taking a foothold Texas, some homeowners may wonder if now is a good time to go off the grid and generate their own electricity with a home wind turbine. Should your family install a home wind turbine? The answer is complicated.

Home wind turbines can be suitable to generate electricity for residential properties. Depending on your landscape’s wind, a small turbine can lower your home’s electric bill a little or up to 100 percent allowing you to go fully off the grid (in the best case scenario).

Is your landscape a fit?

The New York Times explained that personal wind turbines are not a practical option for most homeowners. The publication reported hilltops, plains and oceanfront properties can be good sites for these small turbines. However, properties located in forests, valleys, cities and suburbs are not.

There are many factors a homeowner should consider to determine if a home wind turbine would generate substantial savings for their home prior to investing in it. For starters, your property should be located in an area with an average annual wind speed of at least nine miles per hour, according to the Department of Energy.

Will your surroundings interfere?

If your property is located in a wind-favorable, you still should consider factors such as surrounding homes, buildings, hillsides and trees which can interfere with your turbine’s wind generation.

The DOE explains living in a rural area on an acre of land is beneficial. You’ll also want to check the zoning requirements and covenants in your area before you purchase or install anything.

Size matters

If you think a personal wind turbine is a good fit for your property, you’ll have to decide what size turbine to purchase.Most wind turbine manufacturers will offer consumers an estimated annual electricity output for each product based on height and wind speed calculations.

The average home uses approximately 10,932 kilowatts-hours of electricity annually, and residential property turbines are typically 400 watts to 20 kilowatts, contingent on how much electricity a homeowner wants to generate.

“Depending on the average wind speed in the area, a wind turbine rated in the range of 5-15 kilowatts would be required to make a significant contribution to this demand,” the DOE says.

Create a home energy budget

Another step you should take when considering what size turbine to buy is calculating your home’s energy budget. The DOE’s Appliance Energy Calculator is a good place to start.

While you’re busy calculating how much energy your home consumes, you might also want to brush up on all the ways you can save energy in your home (no pun intended).

The DOE states, “Energy efficiency is usually less expensive than energy production, reducing your home’s electricity will probably be the most cost effective and will reduce the size of the wind turbine you need.” So, even when using renewable energy, it’s still important to consume electricity wisely.

Additionally, we recommend that you do thorough research before making the investment to determine if a personal turbine is a good fit for your property.

 

Jackie Whetzel is a freelance writer who has been featured in newspapers and publications across the country. She has written on the topics of energy, education, government, and business. You can find her on Instagram.

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