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Sheep Dog Hollow: an eco-friendly renovation

How to determine if wind power is for you

Determining if residential wind power is right for your property takes time.

By / April 21, 2010

Spring comes to Sheep Dog Hollow. And with it, a look at possibly installing wind power.

Joanne Ciccarello/Staff/The Christian Science Monitor

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The sun is finally shining here in East Haddam, Conn., and the weather even feels springlike, for a change. Our carpenters are nailing up the last few cedar boards of siding and the sheet-rockers started yesterday.

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Yes, as long as I don’t look at our almost empty bank account, everything appears to be coming up roses as it were, here at Sheep Dog Hollow, our green renovation adventure.

And so, as I mentioned in my most recent post, I’m beginning to look to the future.

To bring new readers up to date: Because we put in a geothermal heating system, we decided to wait for a year or two before deciding on an electrical alternative to our fossil fuel-burning utility. In a year we should know how much electricity our home will use (to say nothing of hoping that we’ve at least started to replenish that bank account by then...)

We’ve looked into solar, and with all of the tax credits, rebates, and loan programs available here in Connecticut, it looks like it will be more than affordable.

But I’m also fascinated by wind, although experts say that here in New England, if you want to put in wind power you must prepare yourself to do battle – and be a bit of a self-starter.

The first thing you have to do is determine whether your property is big enough (you need an acre or more) and whether it gets the wind blowing the necessary 10 to 12 miles an hour wind overhead.

You have about a 50-50 chance of that, according to The American Wind Energy Association, which says, “half the land mass in the United States has sufficient wind to make a small turbine viable. It's crucial, however, that the wind on your property is sustained for long periods at a time.”

That means you need to be in Wind Zone 2 at a bare minimum, but are more likely to have the knot-power you need in Wind Zone 3 or higher. Click here to check the wind zones in your region at the Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the United States.

In the Northeast, we have potential for wind power, according to the Wind Atlas:

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