How to power a house with windmills

Windmills on Pushing Daisies
One of my favorite TV shows (sadly canceled) is Pushing Daisies. If you’ve seen it, you’re no doubt familiar with “Pigeon,” the entire episode they devoted to windmills and “a life of windmillery.” (Screenshot from that episode, above.)

Today I wanted to talk a bit about a common misperception–that’s that we get today’s wind power for home use from windmills. Alas, that’s not the case. Rather than using adorable windmills, we use wind turbines. These are much larger, and capable of producing much more power, but they also tend to be a lot less attractive than yesteryear’s windmills.

Of course, if you wanted to, you could build a windmill in your backyard to power a house. (Though a windmill doesn’t generally store the power it creates, and your system would need to otherwise it would only power your house when the wind was blowing.) The other drawback of a traditional windmill is that they’re not very tall. In today’s more built-up cities, you have to go up quite high to get wind movement (because it’s otherwise blocked by buildings and other structures), and what’s more, it’s generally more windy the higher you go up–which is what makes today’s wind turbines more effective. They’re tall and can take advantage of the wind speeds at higher elevations.

So, if you want to power a house with windmills, you certainly can. There’s no doubt it’s likely to be a lot more attractive! But, if what you’re looking for is maximum efficiency, you’ll want to use one of the newer wind turbines. Another advantage for the wind turbine is that you can easily build one yourself using either a kit or materials you gather on your own. It would be trickier (and require more carpentry experience) to build a great-looking windmill.

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