What you should know about Wind Energy

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Harnessing wind is not a new concept, really; it has been around for thousands of years. Windmills as a practical device, harnessing wind energy to mill grain, have existed since between the 7th and 9th century. A Greek engineer by the name of Heron of Alexandria built a wind powered organ in the 1st century. This is the first known instance of using a windmill to power a machine. But even before then, wind energy was harnessed to sail ships as far back as 5000 BC. Today, wind turbines are a common sight, harnessing wind energy to produce cheap electricity.

Wind turbines are very large. Some of them are about 328 feet tall, which is larger than the Statue of Liberty in New York City. They are also comprised of over 8,000 different components, making them very technologically complex. Most of these components are manufactured in the US among 500 manufacturing facilities employing 50,000 people. The main components we see are the blades, which can reach a staggering 260 feet long, the rotor, which is the hub the blades are connected to, the nacelle, which contains all of the electrical and mechanical components, and the tower the nacelle sits atop. Inside the nacelle, there is a low speed shaft, a gear box, a high speed shaft, and a generator for making electricity. There are also various computer systems to tell the wind turbine how to align itself relative to the wind to maximize energy harnessing and minimizing risk of damage in high winds.

Higher speed winds allow the turbine to generate more electricity. The low speed shaft only spins up to about 30-60 RPMs, but the turbine requires about 1000-1800 RPMs to generate electricity. A gearbox changes the RPMs from the low speed shaft to the high speed shaft, and it is the most expensive parts of the turbine. Higher winds mean the gear spin faster, but winds over 55 mph can damage the blades. Higher speed winds are located higher above the ground, which is why wind turbines have grown 103% in size since 1998.

Wind energy accounts for 33% of new energy production in the United States in the past seven years. If we were to line all of the coastlines of the US with wind turbines, we would have four times the amount of electricity needed for the entire country. Unfortunately, it’s not really practical at this point to do that, but it provides insight into lining coastal waters near highly populated coastal cities. However, the total capacity of wind turbines in the US is over 61 gigawatts, which could power more than 16 million homes, more than all the homes in California.

Wind energy is cheap and renewable, costing as little as 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour for energy companies to purchase the electricity. Tax credits for using renewable energy are part of the reason for these low prices, and the more people choose to use renewable energy, the lower the price will get. Remember that you have the power to choose not only your energy provider but also your energy plan. Check with your REP to see if they have green plans available that take advantage of wind energy.

Educate your Children on Energy Efficiency

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Kids often have trouble grasping concepts that are outside of their visible realm. It can be difficult to explain to them how far away Japan is from the US without equating it to something they know, like how long it takes to drive to Grandma’s house. The same is true when it comes to energy and water efficiency, even for adults. If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind . . . until the bill comes.

According to the American Water Works Association, the average person uses about 11.6 gallons of water showering and the average home uses almost 70 gallons of water per day. That includes showering, cleaning dishes, washing clothes, using water for cooking, and flushing toilets. It may be difficult, especially for a child, to grasp just how much 70 gallons is, or even 11.6. By taking them to a supermarket, you can help illustrate this point. In the dairy section where the milk is kept, count the number of gallon jugs inside one of the cabinets.

Let’s say the display case has four one-gallon jugs across per shelf, four shelves, and each shelf is four jugs deep. Looking at the case, just the jugs in the front on the top three shelves is 12 gallons, just a bit more than the water that is consumed for the average shower. The entire case is 64 gallons. Add another 6 gallon jugs to that case and you’ll have the amount of water consumed by a household per day. Now, just imagine you had to pay the same price per gallon of water as you do for milk or gasoline.

Explaining the consumption of electricity may be a little more difficult since it can be harder to visualize. One way to do it would be to use a child’s electrically operated toy as an example. Many children these days are familiar with tablets, so we’ll use that as an example. If a tablet charges with a 12 watt input over the course of 5 hours, it consumes 60 watt hours. That is the same as running a 60 watt light bulb for one hour. To get them to understand not to waste electricity, you can explain to them that if they leave a light bulb on for an hour without being in the room to benefit from it, they cannot use the tablet for 5 hours.

Teaching electrical and water efficiency early on will benefit the child later in life. The sooner they understand that it is bad wo waste energy and water, the more respectful of the environment and energy they will be. It can be a difficult task making sure they shut off lights when they leave the room, but reward them in such a way that reinforces the conservation mentality.

Tips for Energy Conservation in your Home

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Conservation is an important trait in a sustainable lifestyle. It reduces waste, whether it be food, water, electricity, or heat, and it can save you money. Some locales require conservation as part of their daily life, such as people living on small islands. Along the coasts of the United States are small island communities and these communities truly understand the importance of conservation, especially when goods and services are much higher in cost because of the inherent isolation. Islanders have to reduce waste however they can, but us mainlanders can be conservationists as well by following these simple tips.

When cooking, use the minimum appliance for the job. Large appliances like stovetops and ovens require a lot of energy and also radiate a lot of heat. This extra heat makes your AC work harder in the summer, thus driving up your energy bill. Instead, cook using the microwave, toaster, or crock pot to reduce your energy consumption and excess heat. If you still need to use the larger appliances, set your oven for convection if you have the option. When cooking on the stovetop, use pots and pans that are the same width as the burner to maximize efficiency.

Turn off lights that are not being used. Lighting a room with no one in it serves no purpose. When possible, use task lighting like desk lamps instead of overhead lights as they tend to consume less energy. Unplug electronic devices that are not in use, such as DVD players, TVs, and phone chargers. Even when they are off, these devices continually drain electricity. If you have a lot of electronics plugged into the same area. use power strips and just shut off the power strip to cut power to the devices. Shut off computers and laptops when they are not in use rather than putting them to sleep. If you mostly only do light web surfing, like email, news reading, and Facebook, consider using a tablet instead of a laptop or desktop computer.

Weatherstrip your home to prevent air leaks from driving up your energy bills. You can install rubber seals on your doors and windows to prevent air from leaking out of them, or if you only have gaps at the base of a door leading outside or to the garage, place a rolled up towel at the base of the door to stop the draft. When it gets cold out, wear more layers of clothing rather than cranking the heat.

Follow these tips to cut back on the consumption of Dallas electricity. Combining these tips with cheap electricity rates by switching to a new provider can save you a bundle over the course of a year. Shop Dallas Electricity gives you the power to choose your energy plan and provider, so you’re not stuck in the cold with a provider that doesn’t meet your needs or budget.