Battling the coarse winds is no easy feat. You feel as though you will turn into Mary Poppins at any moment and fly through the sky with your parasol steering the way. But instead of reliving this lovely Disney moment, usually what happens is the wind rips through your carefully styled hair, kicks up your skirt for all to see, and ferociously turns your umbrella inside out so it will never work again properly. Although we can’t see the air, it’s an incredible force that can either tickle your cheek or bring your house to the ground.
According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the U.S. currently uses the wind to generate power for approximately 9.7 million households. In 2009 almost 10,000 megawatts (MW) were generated through new wind power projects. Although your home might not yet be powered by wind, this alternative energy is in use as much as natural gas.
The global warming debate can go on forever, but the fact of the matter is that fossil fuels such as oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear power are limited resources. At some point, we will be forced to rely on other means. This is where wind energy comes into play, because it’s a renewable energy source, which doesn’t produce pollution. Wind energy isn’t a new concept, but in our search for eco-friendly means, it has come to the forefront.
Wind Tunnel Back into Time
When looking back on history, the air has served various functions. Around 3,200 B.C., the ancient Egyptians invented the sail. In 200 B.C., the Chinese invented the windmill for grain grinding, and in the 14th century, the Dutch facilitated a water pump via wind power. The uses for wind energy are just about as limitless as the wind’s worldly travels.
Since then these primitive wind power inventions only evolved. The Romans improved water transportation by building massive fleets with sails that could carry at least a thousand tons of cargo. French farmers built upon the Dutch’s wind power water pump by using it to move water for irrigation, and the windmill led to wind powered systems in Denmark by 1890.
It wasn’t until the 1930s that the wind turbine developed its eggbeater design, which Frenchman G.J.M. Darrieus invented. Ten years following this breakthrough, 6 million windmills were scattered in various locations in the U.S. By the 19th century, larger windmills prompted an increase in steam engines.
As windmills gained more momentum through history, their appearances changed too. Initial four paddle-like wooden blades transitioned to thin wooden slats. Then fan-like steel blades emerged in 1870, and finally the multi-blade design was used to generate electricity in the 19th century.
Wind power has become a competitive force in the energy industry, and new wind farm technology is making the world’s demand for energy more attainable through eco-friendly means.
Give Your Home an Airy Feel
In addition to running your household with wind power through small-scale windmills or clean energy electric services, wind can be a decorative factor at your residence as well.
Did you know that wind chimes were the first musical instrument? Chimes date back to 3,000 B.C., and they were originally constructed from materials such as bone, shells, wood and bamboo. Modern chimes are still made from these same resources, but they have more sophisticated designs built from aluminum, copper, bamboo, etc. Natural bamboo wind chimes or intricate ones with multi-colored capiz shells can create a soothing atmosphere in your garden, patio or porch. Even if you don’t live near the ocean, you can still take pleasure in the breeze.
Another wind-related accessory you can add to your yard is a wind gauge. These measure both speed and direction, which can give you more of understanding and appreciation for Mother Nature’s gusto. Or for a rustic, country look, add a classic horse or rooster weathervane to your property.
Regardless of whether you live in the Windy City, you can take advantage of the beauty and power that the air has to offer. Just be sure you don’t get caught up in its fiery.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marina Hanes is a writer and owner of Cat’s Eye Editing, LLC. She received a B.A. in Professional Writing & Editing from Youngstown State University, and her professional area of focus is Environmental Studies.