Mapping the Wind
Map Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory
This map shows average annual wind density and speed throughout the United States. Areas designated Class 3 or greater are best suited for wind turbines. Class 2 areas are marginal, while areas in white provide the least wind energy.
Joshua Janes was sick and tired of listening to people whine about their high electricity bills. And he'd had it with all his eco-obsessed friends, who went on and on about how frightened they were by global warming, then did absolutely nothing about it. The problem? "I realized I was one of those people too," he says.

So Joshua and his wife, Angie, decided to make a change. They started small, swapping out incandescent lightbulbs for compact fluorescents and replacing burned-out appliances with Energy Star models. But then they adopted a more radical approach to saving energy.

Ohio has long been a top producer of oil and natural gas. But there's another natural resource here many tend to overlook: wind—at least where the Janeses live, near Lake Erie. Taking advantage of their breezy locale, they erected a 45-foot-tall, 1.8-¬≠kilowatt wind turbine in their side yard. And just like that, they cut their consumption of nonrenewable energy, and their monthly utility bills, by almost half.

The turbine, which cost around $15,000 installed, provides up to 400 of the average 900 kilowatt-hours of electricity the family of five uses each month. "The great thing is that it only requires 8-mile-per-hour winds to start producing energy," says Joshua. "Here, we average about 10 to 12 miles per hour." The turbine is hooked into the local power grid for backup, but if it produces more energy than the family needs on any given day, the excess juice is fed back into the power supply. Joshua figures it will take him about 12 years to recoup his investment, at current rates.
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