We all know wind can generate power, but you can also harness the power of wind to generate heat -- and you don't even need a huge windmill in your backyard to pull it off. In 2006, students at Oregon State University proved it could be done when they developed a pint-sized wind turbine-generated water heater. Unlike other water heaters that use electrical heating elements or open flames, the students' wind turbine is completely sustainable and can be bolted to a home's rooftop, or some other location where the wind blows. The key is that there needs to be enough wind to spin the turbine [source: Oregon State University].
When there is sufficient wind, the turbine rotates a number of magnets attached to a metal plate at the opposite end of the shaft. Those magnets spin close to a copper plate, and the magnetic resistance of the spinning magnets warms the plate. As the magnets warm the cooper, water is pumped through a coil of copper tubing mounted on the back of the plate. Not only could their prototype provide a home with hot water, theoretically, that hot water could then be pumped through the house and used as a source of heat [source: Oregon State University].