My Own Private Power Company

In preparing to begin grad school in the fall, my wife and I have been looking at ways to trim our budget down to a number a bit more in line with a one-income family. Some of the cuts are easy: drop the HBO, halve our sushi consumption (probably eliminate it, actually), bike more, drive less.Then we looked at our regular bills. Aquila must be paid, City of Lawrence for water and waste, Sunflower of course. Then I got to Westar. "We can reduce our energy consumption," we thought. "But by how much?" By now everyone is probably familiar with the energy savings produced by compact fluorescent light bulbs, we think bigger at our house. We are thinking of installing our own personal wind turbine.Before laughing at the mere thought of a fantasy like this, consider that renowned designer Philippe Starck plans to market his latest creation ["Democratic Energy"][1] starting this September. "There must be a catch," you say, "wind turbines are ugly and loud and an eyesore and are too big for my yard." Fair enough, but Mr. Starck will match your concerns with a sleek design, small size and claim to be quiet enough to let your neighbors sleep through even the windiest nights."Surely something so innovative must cost at least a fortune or more," you say, "gas is $4 a gallon after all." So true, but what if I told you that you can own one of these remarkable turbines for about $600? What would you say then?I'd say great. Mr. Starck and his collaborators at [Pramac][2] claim that, depending on the size of your house, "Democratic Energy" wind turbines will reduce your energy bill by 20-60%. Although the initial cost may be a bit steep for some of us, the resulting savings in your Westar bill could pay for itself in less than a year (again, depending on the size of your house and your average energy consumption).The biggest drawback at this point is that Starck and Pramac currently do not have a distribution agreement for the United States, so it may be later than September before you can get your hands on one. In the meantime, start figuring out how you will spend your energy savings.What do you think? Would you drop $600 on a home wind turbine? How much would you spend? What do you think of [city-sponsored solar panels?][3] [1]: [2]: [3]:


lilchick 14 years, 4 months ago

I have always wanted an earthship house out in the middle of nowhere. Self rely on energy, water, heat and ac. Shoot and prep our own meat, grow garden and can what we don't use in the summer. I would of course still have to come to town to do my clothes shopping and socialize though...once every few months would probably do it!Check out some of these digs that are off of the grid: are small and somewhat primative and others are WOW!!!

Buck Rowland 14 years, 4 months ago

I wish I would see more things like this in the "mainstream" media regularly. However, one thing I have seen in the "mainstream" is reports on how local and state governments have passed laws against such things, but I don't know much about that. Would this be a device that would require buy-in from governments in order to use, or can we just rewire and get going?

malehrman 14 years, 4 months ago

Buck,I think you are correct that many local and state governments have laws either prohibiting or clearly defining what may be used, how it is used and where it can be used. I haven't seen anything regarding these turbines in particular as they are not quite ready to market them in the US. Local laws may be a reason why.

mwhitey 14 years, 4 months ago

Check out www.northerntools.comThey have a category for alternative energy including's pretty neat.

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