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Skaneateles alternative energy tour highlights local commitment to sustainability

Dick Thompson at his Marietta home which has solar panels on the garage and a solar hot water system in the yard. He was featured on last weekend's alternative energy tour.

Dick Thompson at his Marietta home which has solar panels on the garage and a solar hot water system in the yard. He was featured on last weekend's alternative energy tour. Photo by Joe Genco.

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.

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