Today is Earth Day! In fact, it's the 40th anniversary for Earth Day. On this day of celebrating our planet, be sure to check out the official Earth Day website to explore all the different ways you can make a difference on our Pale Blue Dot.
Rural North Texans are increasingly turning to wind turbines to cut their electric bills, according to this article from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Federal tax credits are making the systems viable, covering 30% of the cost and installation. The wind turbines now pay for themselves in six to ten years, according to one distributor. One homeowner saw his electric bills cut in the half after putting up the turbine, which he described "about as complicated as putting up a flagpole." The article has a number of links to help you determine if wind power could work for your home.
I love ingenuity. Especially some around the subject of energy. Well, Carnegie Institution for Science and California State University have done just that by identifying New York as a prime location for exploiting high-altitude winds using kite-like turbines. Tethered to the earth, these turbine systems would fly near the jet streams, approximately 30,000 feet above the earth, and send back over 10 times the amount of power than conventional land turbines provide. This just might be the future of power. This technology would leave the landscape untouched while providing clean power from a virtually endless source—the wind. Learn more about these fresh ideas at ciw.edu and skywindpower.com.
We've documented the surge of interest in small wind power generators, but would you buy a wind turbine at a hardware store? Homeowners will soon have that option as EarthTronics will be selling turbines designed to operate with low winds at Ace Hardware stores in October for $4,500. The 95 pound turbine is designed to generate electricity with winds as low as two miles per hour and can be mounted on a roof, chimney or attached to a pole. In an area with a good breeze, the turbine can generate 2,000 kilowattt-hours in a year, approximately 15-20% of the annual electricity consumed by the average U.S. home. How much this would save you would depend on where you live in the country but it's safe to say it would take many years before the savings would pay for the cost of the wind turbine. If cost savings are the primary objective, homeowners would be advised to investigate available federal, state and utility incentive plans before making the full investment to be sure the payback is worth of the upfront cost.
According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the market for small wind turbines grew a whopping 78 percent in 2008, which is good news in a world where it seems as if all economic stories are bleak. U.S. manufacturers sold about half of all small wind turbines, accounting for $77 million of the $156 million global total. "Wind energy is an all-around win," according to AWEA CEO Denise Bode, citing the reduced electrical bills and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Solar panels make sense in the long term but the upfront investment can scare away potential customers. With that in mind, Cool Tools investigated if solar panel financing made good economic sense for homeowners. Short story? Yes, you'll save money but the savings won't be dramatic (about 10 percent off your electricity bill a month). The arrangement is a little complicated, so for a full explanation make sure to read the article to decide if it works for you.
Builders in Arizona are being encouraged to install solar panels with an incentive program from Arizona Public Service (APS). The program offers to pay builders $3 per watt for solar systems and 75 cents per watt for solar hot water heaters, the same rate the utility pays homeowners for retrofits. It's hoped the incentive program will allow APS to meet renewable energy standards that require utilities to receive 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025. Solar panels in Arizona? It almost makes too much sense.