Windmill House: Go Dutch for Electricity

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Devon makes an adjustment to one of the arms.
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Devon Tassen's windmill house generates all the electricity his family needs at wind speeds as low as seven or eight mph.

The small town of Millville, California–located about
12 miles east of Redding–is downright “rooster” proud
of the beautiful new “windmill house” designed, built, and occupied in by the village’s
volunteer fire chief, Devon Tassen.

Tassen (who has followed developments in wind, water, and
solar power for years) admits that a small hydroplant would
have been his first choice for a personal source of
electricity. Unfortunately, streams and rivers are in short
supply in the Millville area. So, in 1973, the fire chief
looked to the sky and began to design a home in the
old “Dutch Windmill” tradition that would incorporate
modern aerodynamic principles.

It took the amateur architect over a year to plan his
dwelling before he finally began construction in September of
1974. The house, which is now completed, became a
five-story structure with a total of 1,300 square feet of
floor area.

Of course, the tall and narrow layout of Devon’s home has
necessitated some rather unusual use of that space.

Each story, in effect, serves one purpose. The ground level
is the living room, the second floor houses a bedroom,
bath, and utility closet, and so on. However, the real
“heart” of the wind-powered home is the fifth level turret
room, which contains a 1,800-pound, 40-kilowatt synchronous
generator and the automatic system that Tassen
designed to turn the turret itself in order to keep the
giant blades facing into the wind.

Devon’s generator is actually capable of producing 300
horsepower in a 40-mile-per-hour gale, but a seven-or
eight-MPH breeze is sufficient to generate all the power
the family requires.

The fire chief finished his house in the summer of 1976,
and–so far–the remarkable home powerplant has
“worked just fine, thank you.” And the cost of the project
(excluding that of the house itself) was kept to $8,000
through the use of many recycled parts and materials. Of
course, it won’t take long for the system to pay for itself
either now that Tassen’s electric bills are ”gone
with the wind!”

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