From: Paul Schollmeier and Chris Meyer, Tim Gulden, Lora Hill, Mike Larsen and Linda Nelson
Four Winona County homeowners opened their doors and shared their knowledge, experience, successes, and failures with nearly 200 “solar tourists” on Saturday, October 6th. The solar system owners rolled out the welcome mat and shared baked goods as well as their experience with solar energy.
At each stop solar tourists learned something different about what they can do to limit their global energy impact by using renewable energy and living more sustainable lifestyles. Some of the ideas were old ones that make sense, like using a clothesline or buying Energy Star appliances. Other ideas were off the charts, like special glass for south-facing windows or composting toilets. (Not exactly new, but rarely seen in practice.)
At the Larsen-Nelson home near Altura, people were greeted with a smile and a 21st century residence powered by the sun and the energy of its owners, who purposely designed their home to be self-sustaining, using only renewable energy and green building techniques. Their entirely “off-grid” home showed solar tourists how the land and the home can work together to create comfort and sustenance, with minimal impact on the land around them.
In Winona, solar tourists had a choice of three homes, all incorporating solar PV, but ranging in age from nearly 100 years to just under 10.
At the 1920s farm house of Lora Hill, people were treated to fresh-baked cinnamon rolls and a charming atmosphere that brought the 1920s back to the future with a 5KW PV array, a finely refurbished interior using wood milled from trees from their own land, and a detail for architectural renovation.
Up on the hill just west of Garvin Heights, tourists were treated to a modern-day home powered with a PV array designed and installed by the homeowner himself, local certified solar contractor Tim Gulden. He supplied answers aplenty to the 60-plus tourists he welcomed.
For something in the middle range, solar tourists visited the Schollmeier-Meyer residence and saw both solar thermal and solar PV systems being used, along with an ample array of interior and exterior building and design techniques commonly used on new homes, but applied to their 48-year-old, staggered two-story.
The homeowners on Winona County’s 2012 Solar Tour want thank those who visited for their support and interest in renewable energy. As the solar industry grows in Minnesota, supporting nearly 3,000 jobs, they will continue to share their knowledge and experience with the general public. By sharing their experience, others can become aware of renewable energy technologies and a sustainable life styles that don’t require sacrificing the comforts of modern life. And, if you’re interested to learn more too, be sure to mark your calendar for the 2013 Solar Tour, coming up next October.