|Solar tour showcases green living efforts by residents|
|Written by Lu Stitt|
|Friday, 21 October 2011 12:00|
Green is more than a color, environmentally speaking.
For the past several years, “going green” has referred to improving conditions on our blue planet. Slogans and practices like Reduce, Reuse, Recycle are part of the movement. People are working to use natural resources more efficiently and to harness the free energy that comes from the sun and the wind.
One of the most common resources people are conserving is energy, especially harnessing the sun’s energy. Sustainable Arizona is hosting a free solar tour Saturday, Oct. 22. It is a self-guided tour of several homes throughout Sedona and the Verde Valley. The tour will include the new Sedona-Oak Creek School District office and Sedona Recycles, which recently installed solar panels, said John Neville, president of Sustainable Arizona.
“We have a total of 10 houses, maybe more. I’m waiting to hear from a few people,” Neville said. “We have six local solar providers, and they’ve let us know where the houses are. We contacted the owners to make sure they wanted to participate in the tour.”
The providers and the owners will be on hand to explain how the system is installed, talk about options and financing as well as rebates and tax credits, along with what types of panels were used and what the energy provides.
Neville said there are several different types of solar panels, depending on what the owner wants to do. One of the homes is completely energy efficient using the sun for hot water, lights, appliances, heating and cooling, he said.
“The sun’s energy falling on just half of Maricopa County in one day provides enough energy to power the entire country for one day,” Neville said.
Solar can be installed on almost any home that has an area open to the sun throughout the day. One of the homes on the tour in Cottonwood is older and was retrofitted for solar.
“I’m trying to get a diversity of applications so people can see how many options are available,” Neville said.
Some homes will have hot water, some photovoltaic systems and Neville plans to have a ground source heated home.
The tour is fairly spread out, but Neville has arranged clusters as much as possible so there isn’t a great deal of driving involved.
“This way people can see several different places in the six hours of the tour,” he said. “The reason we do this is there’s a tie between the economy, energy and water. The single biggest user of water, other than agriculture, is utilities.”
Sustainable Arizona is big on conservation, to use only what is really needed. The group’s goal is to create a culture of conservation throughout Sedona and the Verde Valley.
During the tour, people will be able to talk to the owners, learn about what is new in the field of energy efficiency and conservation and learn how affordable solar can be.
“There’s still a chance for tax cuts out there. They extended the solar, wind and geothermal tax credit program to 2016,” Neville said.
Neville moved to Sedona in 2003 and discovered there weren’t any solar panels being used at the time. He owned an energy-efficient home in Minnesota and had solar panels installed on his house there in 1980.
“Now, people are catching up. This is the state with the most sunshine in the world,” he said.
The tour starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. People can find a map at the Sedona Public Library or on Sustainable Arizona’s website: sustainableaz.org. Many of the sites are Americans with Disabilities Act accessible.
The tour is being funded in part with a grant from the Sedona Community Foundation.