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Invest in wind energy in your own backyard

With the slow economy many people are looking for ways to save some cash, and if the money saving method is eco-friendly all the better. 

Across the country, small wind turbines are popping up on roof tops. They promise to help homeowners with skyrocketing utility bills.  Winds of change may be blowing right through your neighborhood.  There is a new way you can generate your own power that is earth friendly and may even put some green back in your wallet.

Sue Wallace says she's got people looking up lately. "I've had at least 20 people knock on the door and say, 'Tell me about what's on your roof.," she said.  What's causing all the ruckus? A roof-mounted wind turbine the mom recently installed on top of her house to help produce energy. "I'm going to save some money of off our electric bill," she said.  We're doing it to teach our kids that it's time to start thinking about the environment."

Ron Stimmel of the American Wind Energy Association just completed a global study on small wind turbines. Ron Stimmel, American Wind Energy Association "that showed the US industry grew about 15% last year alone," he said.  Meaning thousands of the whirling wind catchers are dotting the landscape coast to coast.  "The technology is remarkably simple, just two or three moving parts.  It takes the motion from the wind turns it into motion to the blades, spins them around and generates clean electricity."

First, experts recommend that your area have average wind speeds of about 12 miles per hour.  Next, check out zoning laws in your community.  Then, once in the clear: decide which type fits your needs. Smaller rooftop models are designed to offset overall home use.  Larger pole-mounted models require certain amounts of land but can possibly power an entire house.

Regardless which type you choose, some can tie into the electrical grid. That's what Robin Wilson does. "We don't necessarily use this power, but we generate power and put it back on the grid and then we get a credit," she said.  "For every kilowatt we put in, we get a credit back." Monthly savings can vary greatly, but the Department of Energy says you can possibly shave 50 to 90 percent off your utility bill.

While some oppose the blades because of appearance or slight noise, the environmental impacts of wind are almost entirely positive.  "You have no emissions, there's no dangerous hazardous waste."

Of course, there's up front cost.  A unit big enough to power a house can run anywhere from $12,000-$16,000  installed.  "That's a lot of money for a lot of people.  But if they last 20 to 30 years, you can see a payback in as little as 6 years."

There are also a growing number of government tax incentives and rebates.  Robin used her rebate to cut down her costs, and even became a distributor for her turbine company.  Sue is impressed too, believing the benefits blow away any cost factors.  "It's time to make a difference and we're fortunate enough to be able to it"

As we mentioned, zoning regulations for wind turbines vary from community to community, so check with your local officials for rules and permit procedures.

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