Oct 07, 2013 Joe Genco Uncategorized
For Dick Thompson, getting solar panels for his Marietta home in 2010 was an easy decision, something he had wanted to do for decades.
“I’ve been always been interested in turning free sun into usable power,” Thompson said.
While some, like Thompson, have already made the plunge and converted their home to alternative energy, others still have much to learn before making such a decision.
In the interest of further informing the public about these options Sustainable Skaneateles held an alternative energy tour and fair in the Skaneateles-area on Saturday, Oct. 5.
The event, which was headquartered at the new energy-efficient village hall in conjunction with an open-house, included exhibitors ready to inform the public about alternative and renewable energy sources that are available to homes and businesses.
The tour featured 10 homes which all featured solar, geothermal, or both, installations for generating renewable energy. Visitors to the village hall were given maps and encouraged to visit all the stops to talk with the home owners to learn more about the costs, benefits and variety of options that exist for converting their homes to alternative energy.
Mary Menapace, of Sustainable Skaneateles, said the event was inspired by Ithaca, N.Y. which holds solar-powered home tours. As with the Earth hour and energy challenge events organized by the group earlier this year, the main goal of the event was to inform the public and make them aware of resources that exist to limit their energy use and lead more sustainable lifestyles.
Though it wasn’t planned ahead, the event coincided nicely with both the village grand opening (earlier in the week) and the American Solar Energy Society’s national home tour day, Menapace said.
Thompson, the final house listed on the tour, said he did a lot of research before deciding to install his system and wanted to participate in the tour to facilitate informing other prospective buyers. Though he said he has been totally satisfied with his investment in solar energy, he said that learning about how they work and what would best suit his property is important, especially from fellow home-owners who would be more honest than salespeople about their effectiveness.
“I encourage them to do it, partially for financial reasons and partially for the environment,” he said.
Thompson’s system, which would be cheaper today, was installed in 2010 and cost $17,000, though the actual price ended up being about $5,900 after rebates and tax credits.
The panels on his garage generate about 75 percent of the electricity for his house, which uses both oil and electric heating. The house also has a solar hot-water system (which cost an additional $2,000) that handles 100 percent of the house’s year-round hot water needs. He said he expects the savings to have paid for the initial cost after eight to 10 years.
While the tour demonstrated people that have installed alternative energy at their homes, the exhibitors at the village hall showed how local groups are leading the way in innovation in energy too. The Cornell University Cooperative Extension had a display on bio-fuels, a potential way to power cars and heat homes that wouldn’t rely on fossil fuels.
Jordan-based Kohilo Wind had one of their small portable wind-turbines on display at the received international patent protection, sales associate Joe Mannion said.
Kohilo has designs that can be mounted on rooftops, grain silos or at other low-altitude locations and still generate energy more efficiently than the industrial-size turbines by being able to generate energy at low wind speeds and with wind from any direction.
Their short height makes them ideal for home use and would be allowed by towns, like-Skaneateles that have moratoriums, or restrictions, on turbines or other structures of a certain height, Mannion said.
The model on display at the village hall was a portable trailer wind generator that could supply power in the event of a power outage or at a remote location. Unlike gas powered generators, or even other wind-powered devices, the Kohilo generators are totally quiet, he said.
For more information on the houses featured in the tour visit sustainableskaneateles.wordpress.com.
Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.