Do you have firsthand advice about wind power?

A green home renovator wants firsthand advice about residential wind power in the Northeast.

Joanne Ciccarello/Staff/The Christian Science Monitor
Martin Sheridan, fiancé of Alexandra Marks, drops by Sheep Dog Hollow to catch up on the construction progress. If they choose wind power, the turbine will go on the hill behind this barn.

This is going to be a short Sheep Dog Hollow green renovation blog post, as well as an appeal.

It will be short for the reasons I will explain in the next paragraph. It is an appeal, because I don’t know anything about the viability of residential wind power in the Northeast and would like to hear from people who do.

Here are my excuses for the brevity of the blog: A week after our once-in-a-100-years deluge here in Connecticut, water continues to seep through the few cracks on the basement floor here at Little Pug Farmette, our current home. As a result, I’m still wet-vacuuming and sorting through dozens of boxes of sodden books, a heartbreaking experience.

Second, Little Pug (much to my sadness) is on the market so we can afford to finish Sheep Dog and we have a showing first thing tomorrow morning.

Then there are the Sheep Dog renovation considerations: The spray foam insulators are arriving there and I’ve still got to vacuum up the wood shavings and sawdust from all the nooks and crannies in the walls to prepare for them.

Right now, I feel rather hurried.

But now to wind power: I’ve decided I want to investigate its viability, along with solar, as a possible alternative source for electricity. This is not a decision we have to make right away. In fact, we can wait at least a year after construction at Sheep Dog is finished before deciding.

That’s because we installed a geothermal heating system. We’d like at least a year’s experience with it operating full tilt to know exactly how much electricity we’ll be using. (And we hope to have replenished our fast-depleting bank account by then, as well.)

Once we know our annual kilowatt usage, we can decide whether to put in a wind turbine or solar panels to augment the electricity from the power company

I’ve already started my research on solar and am satisfied it could be a wonderful addition to Sheep Dog Hollow, although I’m not keen on a bank of shiny panels on the barn. I fear that they would take away some of the authentic look of the old place.

So I’d like to determine if a small wind turbine on the top of a hill behind the barn might make an equally good alternative source for electricity.

In a quick Internet search, I found Skystream, a wind power company based in the Southeast. It has a great, one-page primer called “Will it Work For Me?”

The four key things it lists: your property is larger than one-half acre and is unobstructed; the average wind speed above your house is at least 10 mph (best results at 12 mph or more); local zoning laws allows a structure that is at least 42 feet tall; and your electric utility has an existing interconnection agreement.

We’ve definitely got enough land. I have to find out about the zoning laws and electrical interconnection agreement.

For the average wind speed, I went to the City-Data site and checked East Haddam. It turns out that the average wind speed ranges between 8 and 11 miles per hour during the year. I’m not sure it’s quite enough.

I decided I needed to find a company that specializes in our region. A quick search turned Northeast Alternative Energy, which touts “Our mission is to inform and empower the home owner in the quest to free themselves from the burden of rising energy bills and contribute to a greener footprint on society.”

I plan on calling them to get as much info as I can as soon as I finish up with my wet-vacuuming, book mourning, cleaning, and house showing. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from anyone who’s got a residential wind turbine and get their thoughts – pros and cons.

Here’s to the water table finally receding!


Alexandra Marks blogs twice a week about her green and budget-friendly restoration of a 1902 farmhouse in Connecticut. Click here to find all her blog posts and articles.

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