Jan
22
2009

  Proof of Windiness

Terry came into my room very excited a few hours ago-- he's been interested in getting a windmill for years now, but it's never been economic before. But now things might be coming together. He found out about this company that is beta-testing windmills, and if our property qualifies they would install one for free and we would just pay the cost of the actual windmill (which I think is about half of what it would cost us to buy our own regularly).

Additionally encouraging, Terry found a report on wind speed measurements taken from Buck's Elbow mountain, which is 4 miles from our home. The measurements were taken from 3100 ft up, while we're down closer to 600 ft. But we are directly in line with the prevailing wind, so while the magnitude of the wind is certainly less down here, the general trends probably match up pretty well.

The bottom line is that it is not my imagination or any exaggeration when I report howling winds battering the house on winter nights. The report shows that the wind speed in the wee hours of January nights is significantly higher than at any other time of the year. I never before really paid attention to the particular month, but it seems right that it's worst in January.

It was interesting to see the chart in the report that showed the wind speeds in mph over the course of a year. There were many days the wind was over 40 mph, which explains why we've got twigs and branches blowing into the house (according to the Beaufort Wind Scale, 40 mph is about the speed where branches blow off trees) and there were even a few days over 55 mph which is fast enough to blow entire trees over. I don't recall losing any particular trees this year, but I only notice when we lose trees on the edges of the woods where I'm used to seeing them. When I walk through the woods there are plenty of trees down, but I don't count them so I don't know how many years they've been down.

I guess it would be cool to have a windmill. Our power bill isn't that high, so I'm still not sure it would be economic even with the beta-testing subsidy, but if Terry is right about his assumptions then we might actually generate enough power to sell it back to the power company and that would help recoup the initial cost. If the power company wouldn't pay us cash, but just give us electricity "credits" for future use, I'm not sure we'd benefit from that as much since we don't use an inordinate amount of power. Our home is fairly energy-efficient.