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Wind turbines for homes

If you want to do your bit for the planet, and potentially save money on your energy bills, harnessing wind power with a domestic wind turbine is one of your options.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 27 March 2020  | 2 min read

Key points

  • Pole-mounted and building-mounted wind turbines can both be installed on domestic properties
  • Larger turbines produce more electricity, but are more expensive to install
  • Low wind speeds in the UK mean that domestic wind turbines for homes aren’t always cost effective, so check your property and seek professional advice before investing in one

How do wind turbines work?

Wind turbines have large blades that are pushed around by the wind. This drives a turbine and subsequently generates electricity.

They generally require a minimum wind speed of around five meters per second and you’ll need to check whether you’ll need planning permission to install one on your land.


How much is a domestic wind turbine?

There are two different types of wind turbines:

  • Building-mounted – these can be installed on the roof of your home as long as there’s enough wind to make it worthwhile. These turbines tend to be less efficient, but are less expensive.
  • Pole-mounted – these are free-standing turbines, like the huge ones you might see in the countryside. These are more efficient, but cost more to install.

Costs differ greatly based on the capacity, type and position of the turbine.

For example, The Renewable Energy Hub reckons the average cost of a 0.5 kW to 2.5 kW roof-mounted turbine could cost at least £2,000 to install, and a 1.5 kW pole-mounted turbine could cost £7,000. However, The Energy Saving Trust suggests a 2.5 kW pole-mounted turbine costs between £9,900 and £19,000.

To get an accurate figure for your home, get a few quotes from various companies and weigh up the pros and cons of each.


Funding for wind turbines

Some companies will pay you a ground rent to be able to install a wind turbine on your property, but you’ll have to meet certain criteria for this, such as having an open, windy site.

Wind turbines used to be eligible for feed-in tariff (FIT) payments – where an energy supplier pays you for any excess energy your wind turbines generate and feed back to the national grid. The FIT scheme has been closed to new applicants (unless you installed an MCS certified wind turbine on or before 31 March 2019). 

It's been replaced by the the smart export guarantee (SEG) scheme, which works in a similar way.


The advantages of wind power

The main benefit of wind turbines is that they reduce your carbon footprint by producing renewable energy. The turbines also don’t give out any harmful pollutants when they run.

Wind is also free, so once you’ve paid the installation costs, you won’t have to worry about paying an expensive energy bill again – provided your turbine generates enough energy to power your home! You’ll just need to set aside a bit of money for maintenance costs.

If you are part of the SEG scheme, you could eventually recoup the install and maintenance costs of your turbine and start making a profit, although this will take a while.

You can also store any excess energy in batteries for your home to use when there’s no wind, so you can go off-grid.


Are wind turbines cost effective?

This depends on the capacity and efficiency of your wind turbine as well as the installation requirements. Also, the weather in the UK is fairly unreliable, so there’s no guarantee that you’d get enough wind regularly to power your home, which means you’d have to fall back on power from the national grid. Generally, the bigger the turbine, the more cost effective it’ll be as it can generate more energy in the long run.


Which is better – wind turbines or solar panels?

Solar panels won’t work during the night or on cloudy days, whereas a wind turbine can generate electricity whenever it’s windy enough, but predicting suitably windy weather is a lot harder than determining whether there’ll be a bit of sun.

Solar panels produce less energy than wind turbines, but they take up less space and require little maintenance. Solar panels don’t make any noise, but they do release a little more CO2 to the atmosphere.

It really depends on where you live too – rural areas might benefit more from larger, higher capacity wind turbines, but city dwellers will find compact solar panels more practical.

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