Tour provides glimpse into energy-efficient living

Years ago, I travelled to Arizona to attend solar home tours. First it was Tucson, then a year or so later, Flagstaff and Prescott. Each one was a great experience. I met homeowners who benefitted from doing things differently. Best of all was their willingness to share their experiences with others.

I’ll never forget seeing my first straw bale home. The natural feel of the walls and the thick, inviting window ledges seemed to envelope those inside. I remember speaking with one homeowner as he proudly displayed his solar heating and cooling system. Yes, in the extremely hot climate of Tucson, Ariz., he cooled his home using passive and active solar technology and design, with very little electricity. I learned a lot from that conversation.

From passive solar designs to water and energy efficiency and, of course, solar power, each home had unique combinations of technology, materials and the wise use of resources. The common thread among them all was the tangible benefit of green living. These people were examples of how to live well while at the same time doing more with less waste. My experience of those Arizona home tours was of tremendous and lasting value. I learned that green living is more about awareness, attitude and commitment than dollars and cents.

That knowledge led to organizing the first Southern Nevada Solar Home Tour more than six years ago, working with other members of Solar NV, the Southern Nevada Chapter of the American Solar Energy Society. Each year since, Solar NV has provided Nevadans with a valuable and unique showcase of local residents who have made solar energy and efficiency a part of their lives.

This year’s tour will take place Oct. 2 starting at the Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd. It will feature more than a dozen homes plus a selection of schools and businesses. Representatives from various organizations will be on hand at the Springs Preserve starting at 8 a.m. providing information about renewable energy, green building, energy efficiency, financial incentives and more.

A guidebook will be available for purchase, serving as the ticket to the self-guided home tour. The book will include maps, directions and details about each home or facility on the tour. To minimize energy use, carpooling is encouraged. One $15 guidebook is good for a whole vehicle . Hybrid vehicles will receive a $5 discount for setting a good example.

Those who spend a little time reviewing the guidebook and planning the day will most likely get the most out of the experience. All tour sites are open from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. For complete details or to register in advance, visit www.solarnv.org. Previous tours have sold out so be sure to come early. Online registration is strongly encouraged.

For those in other areas of the country, rest assured. The local tour is part of the National Solar Tour and there will be more than 600 additional events in 48 states and Washington, D.C. Attendance is expected to top 160,000 people this year. If you’d like to find out about tours in other areas, check out www.nationalsolartour.org.

Our lives are increasingly affected by the climate crisis, pollution, dwindling supplies of fossil fuels and rising energy costs. If you think these issues are too big for anyone to have a significant impact on, think again. Every one of us can be part of the solution, but we need it now. I invite you to participate in the Southern Nevada Solar Home Tour and learn how to become a part of the clean energy revolution.

Steve Rypka is a green living consultant and president of GreenDream Enterprises, a company committed to helping people live lighter on the planet. For more information and links to additional resources relating to this column, or to reach Steve, please visit www.greendream.biz.

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