Most of us take for granted the fact that when we flip a switch in our home; a light will come on and shouldn’t go off unless the bulb burns out. If asked; most of us have no idea where our electricity comes from and most would answer from the electric company. If we tried to go further and asked how the electric company got the power, we wouldn’t be able to answer and probably wouldn’t care either. This ignores an important fact that electricity does run our lives and it’s important to know where it comes from, how it’s produced, and what alternatives we have to power our lives.

            The company used at my home is Xcel Energy which seems to get its power from a few different sources including; fossil fuels, nuclear, Hydro, and wind[4153]. After producing the power, the energy is transferred to different transmission lines that feed into substation lines. Substation lines distribute the power to different areas through feed lines which then send them to other lines which run into our homes.

Wind Turbine(103448)Credit: sustainables photostream

            My power bill ranges from $100 to $135 dollars a month which I assume is average for people who power all utilities from the one company. There have been months when I have been very energy conscious and turned off all the power before leaving to go to work, but the savings haven’t been substantial. Every little bit helps though and I could definitely do more to help trim the bill down to a more manageable size.

            I think the answer to whether power costs would increase or decline by using wind power is dependent on who owns the wind turbine. If the power company owned the turbine, I don’t think prices would decrease and if they did, they wouldn’t decrease by a noticeable amount. Should the homeowner purchase a wind turbine, I think a savings potential exists, but not in the beginning. Buying a wind turbine should be looked at as an investment since to claim a true profit you would need to pay off the cost of the wind turbine first.  Wind turbines are a great idea for alternative energy, but if someone wishes to purchase one, they should view all associated costs to owning one such as maintenance, city fees, and other small costs that come with ownership.

            There are many different issues that a potential owner should investigate before purchasing a wind turbine and installing it in their backyard. Of all the problems associated with wind turbines, the number one concern has been the effect on birds and bats[4154] . The blades can be hard to see, especially for visually impaired birds like bats that rely on sonar to see. Should the turbine be in a position that doesn’t reflect the bats method of sight, it may hit the blade and subsequently die. It is also speculated that the wind turbines can confuse birds and cause them to have migratory issues due to the mammoth size of some turbines.

Green Energy(103447)Credit: Ethan. K

            A second problem associated with wind turbines is the noise that they can cause. In most cases the wind should be able to help dampen any noise created by the turbine, but there will always be some associated noise since it is a mechanical object. Proper placing, balance, and lubrication can go a long way in decreasing any associated noise the turbine causes.

            Finally, they may be a visual eye sore on the community if placed in a wrong area. Cities may place restrictions on the height to help avoid problems with impaired sight, but even a small one may have a negative impact on neighbor’s views. The best solution to solving this problem is to place the wind turbines in areas that are less populated and place small ones in yards only when agreed upon by neighbors and in a visually acceptable location.

            As you can see wind power does make a good alternative energy solution for our homes needs. It is not a total fix to our energy problems, but it does go a long way in helping to reduce fossil fuel offsets caused by the burning of coal and other fuels. One great advantage to owning a wind turbine is that eventually it could help to pay for your electrical bill or even be a source of revenue should you not require all of its power. With energy prices rising it could be a great long term investment and one that more people should research.