October is my favorite month in Southern Nevada. The summer heat is waning and the cooler nights are delightful. It also happens to be National Energy Awareness Month. It sounds like the perfect time to visit and learn about solar homes, don’t you think? The American Solar Energy Society (ASES) agrees, and their annual National Solar Tour happens this weekend on Saturday, October 6th. Tours will happen in thousands of communities across the U.S. It is the world’s largest grassroots solar energy event.
It takes is a local chapter of ASES to organize, coordinate and plan the event in each locale. Southern Nevadans are fortunate since that is exactly what Solar NV (www.solarnv.org) has done since 2005. The Southern Nevada Solar Home Tour has provided thousands of Nevadans with an enjoyable, high-quality experience and this year will be no exception. Solar NV is a great non-profit organization and worthy of your support.
Of course a solar home tour has another indispensable ingredient: solar homes. A successful tour depends on the cooperation of local residents who are willing to open their homes while sharing their knowledge and experience with others in the community. I have attended events in several cities and also participated as an owner with a home on past tours. In my experience, there is a common feeling that is always present: joyful optimism. This Saturday will be no exception.
After all, there is much to be optimistic about. Green living has never made more sense and clean, renewable energy is more affordable than ever. Tour-goers will learn first-hand from people who are powering their lives with the sun every day – and loving it. The tour will feature a variety of homes, from a fixer-upper that has been transformed through a deep-green energy retrofit to a LEED-platinum home built from the ground up with energy efficiency and solar as part of its DNA.
There is no better or more enjoyable way to spend the first Saturday in October than making new friends while learning how to improve our lives and community. You will have an opportunity to learn from and share ideas with some very smart, forward-thinking people. Besides plenty of photovoltaic arrays, this year’s tour will feature examples of solar and on-demand water heating systems, passive solar techniques, water efficiency, green building, energy efficiency and even the emerging practicality of commuting with an electric vehicle charged by the sun.
That last item is something I’ve been doing for several months now. Using solar energy to replace expensive gasoline or diesel fuel can really enhance the return on investment in a clean energy system. If you have an eye on the future and would like to learn how to get control over rising fuel costs, do not miss this event!
There will be around ten homes on this year’s self-guided tour. Hours are 10 AM until 4 PM. You can register at www.solarnv.org. The cost is $10 for members, $15 for high-mileage hybrids or electric vehicles and $20 for regular cars or SUVs. The per-vehicle price is designed to encourage car-pooling. Solar NV hopes you will share the experience with friends and family, having an enjoyable day with a low per-person carbon footprint and cost. Proceeds help cover the cost of producing the tour and to support Solar NV’s mission to promote renewable energy in Nevada.
Please call your friends, pack some drinks and food in a cooler and head out Saturday morning for an adventurous day of discovery. I guarantee it will be an experience you will never forget. If you are like me, it just might be a turning point in your life.