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Truckee Solar Home Tour 2000

MAYUMI ELEGADO, Special to the Sierra Sun

Imagine a house completely off the ‘grid.’ A home without grid-supplied power but with electricity for the alarm clocks, the refrigerator, even heat. Simply a pipe-dream of the future? No, in Russel Valley, there is such a home. This house and six other locations were showcased in a unique event last Saturday.

While fog still enshrouded the town, 35 people boarded a bus to embark upon Truckee’s fourth Solar Home Show tour.

As part of the 2000 National Solar Homes Tour, the Truckee event showcased alternatives in home power and construction.

Rick Solinsky, the primary organizer of this year’s event and owner of two solar panels himself, emphasized, “There are over 300 days of sun here in Truckee and nobody is using it (the energy).”

Focusing on the cold weather in Truckee, the show highlighted a variety of methods of heating homes, featuring alternatives in heating systems and simple techniques to increase energy efficiency. The methods ranged from passive solar, as in a bottom level greenhouse radiating heat into upper levels, to a more complex geothermal heat pump design, with one house having seven 180-foot wells from which to draw heat from the earth.

Acknowledging that not everybody will build new homes or alternative utility systems, the tour organizers pointed out simple methods to increase energy efficiency in a home, such as using special fans on woodstoves, installing window panes suited for this climate or replacing old lightbulbs with bulbs that are energy efficient.

Ely Duncan, a landscape photographer from the San Francisco area, came to glean information and ideas for a home she plans to build in Grand Junction, Colo.

Claiming to want to build the best house possible, she said the biggest draw to tour was to physically be in the homes, talking to the owners, learning from their mistakes.

Both the organizers and participants added comments, questions and answers throughout the tour, with a growing sense of inspired excitement permeating the day. The group passion was most obvious in the reluctant departure from the parking lot as participants stood around talking as the sun went down.

Scott Terrel, a past tour organizer, referred to the possibility of growing electrical costs in the future and with it the need for alternative energy sources.

“We’re educating people for the future,” he said.

Those interested in homes with alternative power and who missed Saturday’s tour, or who are interested in energy alternatives, can call Solinksy at 587-1920.


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