With soaring energy prices, the cost of powering a home continues to rise. If you’re fed up of paying those astronomical bills, you might have looked into renewable power and, as a result, are likely to have stumbled upon solar power.
However, did you realise you could also benefit from a domestic wind turbine? Though the UK might be notorious for its lack of sunshine, there’s certainly plenty of wind to be had. Wind turbines don’t always require planning permission, and when they are installed correctly, that blustery weather can be turned into power for your home!
How do Wind Turbines Work?
Wind turbines generate power when the blades are rotated. The amount of energy created depends on the consistency and speed of the wind. An inverter is used to transfer the energy into your mains supply so you’re not only able to use it in your home but sell it back to the National Grid. Turbines don’t normally work as a stand-alone system and so your home will require mains power.
However, any energy generated will go towards your power usage, reducing your electricity bill and generating some income from the government’s FiT (Feed-in Tariff) scheme.
Utilise FiT to Generate an Income
In an effort to increase the amount of domestic renewable energy produced, the government launch the FiT scheme in 2010. This initiative not only pays for any renewable energy generated and used, but also any excess electricity that can be sold back to the grid. Unfortunately, as renewable energy generators (solar panels and wind turbines, for example) become more affordable, the government has reduced its FiT payments.
They are due to be phased out entirely, but if you want to reduce your energy bills and create energy in an environmentally friendly way, wind turbines are still a great option.
Turbine Types and Prices
There are two main varieties of domestic wind turbines; freestanding pole and mast-mounted turbines, and roof-mounted ones. Though most will be hooked up to the National Grid, you can have stand-alone systems which are used to power batteries.
- Micro-turbines. These are normally used to charge batteries and generate anything up to around 0.5KW.
- Small Pole-Mounted Turbine. Generating around 2.5kW, these are generally the most affordable and accessible for domestic use.
- Large Pole-Mounted Turbine. If you really want to generate a lot of power, you could opt for a large model. These turbines create between 5kW’s and 6kW’s.
The cost of your wind turbine will largely depend on the size and scale of the model you choose. The Energy Saving Trust (EST) estimates domestic wind turbines, including VAT and installation, will cost the following:
- Roof-Mounted Micro Turbine – Generating up to 1kW, a small roof-mounted turbine should cost around £3,000. Though these are cheap, they’re not very efficient.
- 2.5kW Pole-Mounted Wind Turbine – One of the most popular models, this wind turbine will cost between £9,900 and £19,000.
- 6Kw Pole-Mounted Wind Turbine – An option if you want to generate a lot of power, these models cost between £21,000 and £30,000.
Affordability Factors and Considerations
It’s extremely important to remember that the cost of a wind turbine, including its installation, needs to be weighed up against the long term savings. If possible, you should attempt to get installation expenses as low as possible, and you can do this by using sites like Quotatis to find local contractors to negotiate with. However, there are other factors to consider;
- Local Wind Speed. It’s essential to check with assessors that the average local wind speeds will generate enough electricity. Turbine inverters use mains power constantly, regardless of whether the turbine is actually turning. Average annual wind speeds need to be a minimum of 5m/s (metres per second); otherwise your turbine could actually use more electricity than it generates.
- Turbine Noise. Before going ahead, you should realise that turbines do make a noise. Outside it will sound like a whirring sound, whilst there could be louder groans and moans inside as the wind speed changes. In high winds, roof-mounted turbines can also vibrate. As such, you might need to add soundproofing in lofts and attics; an additional cost that needs to be factored in.
- Planning Permission. Though planning permission isn’t always required, you should check with local councils. You should also discuss the installation with neighbours to avoid the risk of potential legal action.
- Cabling, Installation and Inverter Costs. Though the installation and cabling costs are included in the above costs, replacement inverters aren’t. Inverters are likely to need replacement during a wind turbine’s lifetime at an average expense of £1,000 per unit.
- Insurance. Your home insurance may be affected by your wind turbine, so it’s important to check potential costs before you go ahead with the installation. Some providers will cover theft, replacement and theft of turbines, but your premium could change as a result.
Can Wind Turbines really Save you Money?
When installed in the right location and for the right price, wind turbines can offer you the chance to reduce your energy bills, and even make a little through FiT tariffs too. However, the high initial cost means it takes time until they’ve made their money back.
If you’re looking for a long-term investment and want to generate power in an environmentally friendly way, they can be ideal. They can also be a better option than solar panels because, as long as it’s windy, they’ll generate power day or night, allowing you to sit back and relax with peace of mind your energy bill is going down.