The self-guided and bus-hosted tours, organized by grassroots organizations and solar installers throughout the country, offer the perspectives of businesses, homeowners and installers about the costs, processes and benefits of going solar.
The tours also give Americans a glimpse at the latest technologies—and how a variety of solar systems will look in and around structures with different architectural styles. Featured are solar-powered homes, farms, public agencies, condo complexes and solar-powered businesses that run the gamut from doughnut shops to ceramic shops and funeral homes.
“In the wake of the largest man-made environmental disaster in U.S. history, learning about clean, job-creating energy options that provide tax breaks, lower energy bills and create cleaner communities for all of us is something everyone can do to begin to address America’s addiction to fossil fuels,” said National Solar Tour Manager Richard Burns. “The ASES National Solar Tour brings families and businesses real-life examples of how their neighbors are harnessing free energy from the sun to warm and cool their homes and heat their water – without polluting our environment.”
Among the first to hold tours were the folks in oil-rich Alaska and Texas. Alaska’s tour takes place earlier than the majority of open houses due to unpredictable weather. Texas last year hosted five tours, the first being Austin’s annual Cool House Tour, this month featuring energy-efficient and solar-powered homes. Studies show that for every $1 property owners invest in energy efficiency, they save $3 to $5 on the final cost of a solar energy solution. It’s the fastest and easiest way to reduce energy bills and shrink one’s carbon footprint.
“We have a common-sense saying here in Texas that energy you don’t use is energy you don’t have to pay for,” observed Lucy Stolzenburg, executive assistant of Cool House Tour, co-presenter the Texas Solar Energy Society.
ASES coordinates the activities of all tour organizers via monthly conference calls and an interactive website where groups can register a tour or volunteer to help. ASES also produces posters, promotional materials and an evergreen “Get Started” guide to help tour hosts promote their tours.
“We invite other corporations to join Conergy, Sanyo, Sun Crystals and Trina Solar as National Solar Tour sponsors to showcase the projects and demonstrate how they’re helping others harness the power of energy efficiency and solar energy to support this important grassroots effort,” said Safier. “As this year’s National Solar Tour theme suggests, there’s never been a better time to ‘Be solar inspired!’”
“With enticing federal tax credits, billions of dollars in grants and loans, state-funded cash rebates and a groundswell of consumer support for sustainable solutions that promote energy independence, the economics of solar have never been more compelling -- for businesses, public agencies, consumers or entrepreneurs,” said four year National Solar Tour sponsor Jyl Safier, marketing director for the global solar energy experts at Conergy.
For more information on incentives and rebates in Colorado and Wyoming, go to the national Database of State Incentives for Renewable and Efficiency at www.dsireusa.org.