Alternative Power at Home: Wind vs. Solar

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Tom in Oklahoma, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you?

    TOM IN OKLAHOMA: Hi. We’re going to building a house this summer. [We’re starting this (inaudible] (ph). And one of the things that we’ve talked about is a wind generator for our power. I can’t find information on, I guess, one small enough for a house. And is that a good idea, do you think?

    LESLIE: Well, in the Oklahoma area you’ve got – what? – is it Oklahoma Gas and Electric? Are they your service provider currently?

    TOM IN OKLAHOMA: No, we live out in Onakoa (ph).

    LESLIE: OK. Because Oklahoma Gas and Electric, they have a very comprehensive website which is And they actually harvest wind power through wind farms. And they provide a great deal of their power through wind energy and they might be a great place to start.

    TOM IN OKLAHOMA: OK. But what my thought was if I could have my own generator then I could stop paying the electric company. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Well yeah, you want to be very green here and certainly you could install your own wind generator. You’re going to need a tower and, of course, the generator. And it’s going to be a pretty big investment so I’m not quite sure how long you’re going to have to have that before you get the payoff. And also, there’s been a long history of accidents from home installed generators. So you need to make sure that it’s installed correctly. Because it has to be properly attached. And just imagine the stresses that are going to be placed on that in a high wind storm. And that’s why it has to be so carefully installed.

    So if you want to do something that’s very green – in other words, very good for the environment – you can buy your energy from an environmentally sensitive provider; like the work that’s being done by OG&E. Or you could also consider solar as a option. Certainly you could pick up a lot of energy that way and set up your system so that it feeds back into the power grid excess energy.

    LESLIE: Oh yeah, and then they pay you back.

    TOM IN OKLAHOMA: Well and another thought that one of the things – we’re going to have a very green house and one of the things that we wanted was the tankless water heaters. We’re building a five bedroom house with five bathrooms and I’ve been led to believe that the electric models are not efficient to run more than one bathroom at a time.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s absolutely true. The best tankless water heaters are gas powered and the gas piping has to be the right size, too. Because while they don’t use a lot of gas, they need a lot of volume for a very short period of time so it has to be sized correctly.

    So are you going to have access to gas?

    TOM IN OKLAHOMA: Well, we weren’t going to. That’s why I wanted the generator. But I’m kind of – I’m mixing both directions. I mean I like gas heat and I like gas cooking but if I could stop using, you know, fossil fuel that would be a good thing.

    TOM: Yeah, but I think that it’s going to be the least expensive way for you to heat your house and to cook is going to be gas. So you know, you could have a good chance of using very little gas if you have a very energy efficient home. And what I would recommend, if I had my options, is I would always have gas first then I would have electric for everything else.

    TOM IN OKLAHOMA: Well, thank you for all your help. I love your show. You guys sure give out a lot of good information for people.

    TOM: Thanks, Tom.

    LESLIE: Thanks, Tom.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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