by Nathan Devlin
When most people in Saskatchewan step outside their homes in the wintertime they curse the wind. They probably curse SaskPower when the winter heating bill arrives, too. But there is a way to put the strong Saskatchewan wind to work for you, and cut your heating bill in half at the same time. The way is through residential wind turbines.
Wind turbine technology has been available for the home since around 2001, but it’s never quite caught on with regular folks. However, as with all new technologies, as it was developed, it became more affordable. Today, the technology to install a wind turbine in your own backyard has become practical for the majority of homeowners.
Simply put, the average residential wind turbine generates about 4000 kilowatt-hours per year. The average home uses about 8000 kilowatt-hours per year. Buy and install a wind turbine for your home, and say goodbye to half your annual power bill.
Of course, the details of actually buying and installing your own wind turbine are more complex than the numbers above. A modern wind turbine, one that connects to the power grid and so does not require batteries, costs about $6,000. That’s a lot of money to almost everyone, but the cost has fallen significantly. Previously, the only option for someone looking to buy their own turbine was to shell out $20,000 for a complete system, including batteries and power converters.
Installation can present its own challenges. If you consider yourself a reasonably handy person, installation won’t be much of a problem. But if you’re all thumbs, however, it’s going to cost you around $400, and not all companies that sell wind turbines provide an installation option (most do though). On the positive side, should you pick one up, it won’t cause any significant noise once you’ve got it running, and you won’t have to worry about it once it’s up there.
It will definitely vibrate though, enough that you wouldn’t want to install one of your roof. Attaching the turbine to a tower and installing in the backyard is the best choice. Even with that, the process is getting simpler all the time.
Darryl Jessie has been in the wind turbine business for years.“You can buy a 20 year rated machine, that requires zero maintenance, and install it yourself with some basic carpentry experience. The manual is only a page long,” says Jessie.
SaskPower recently set a goal of having 30 per cent of the provinces power generated from renewable resources by 2020. One step to reaching that goal has been to offer financial rebates to any person who feeds energy back into the grid through renewable sources, such as wind turbines.
Another step has been to speed-up the permit granting process for anyone hooking up to the power grid. Once you have that permit, no other documentation is required to install a personal wind turbine.