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Solar tour to feature three Park City homes

SKYLER BELL, Of the Record staff

The Utah Solar Building Tour 2006, taking place throughout the state on Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will feature three Park City homes that employ solar-power systems to publicize the benefits of the cleaner energy source.

Greg Libecci, interim chairperson of the Utah Solar Energy Association, said the tour will provide a free opportunity for anyone to see what solar and environmentally friendly building has to offer.

"The goal of the tour is to educate the public to the availability of solar technologies," he said. "We also want to promote the use of solar technologies, by demonstrating active systems in the homes of neighbors."

The 11th annual tour will feature 36 homes from St. George to Ogden. It is a part of the National Solar Tour, which took place on Oct. 7 and included 45 states and hundreds of cities across the country. Last year more than 68,000 people attended the national tour events.

Information about solar-power systems, as well as the featured homes of this year’s tour, is available at http://www.utsolar.org and tour guides will be available at each of the featured buildings.

The home of Peter and Pat Behn is the most solar intensive of the Park City three, Libecci said. It incorporates all three solar technologies: passive solar, solar thermal and solar photovoltaicx, also known as solar PV.

Libecci said passive solar is "making use of the sun with consideration for daylighting, taking advantage of southern exposure using windows and the use of skylights. Orientation is also a component of passive solar so you orient your house in such a way to accommodate solar panels and to have windows face the south."

Solar thermal systems heat hot water for domestic needs, such as showering and dish washing, and also for radiant floor heating, in which the water runs in tubes under the floor.

"The floor retains the heat and it lets it out in a natural and gradual way, which is nice," Libecci said.

Solar PV systems generate electricity using solar panels, which Libecci said saves money on utility bills.

"It’s not just a theoretical thing," he said. "It’s a reality that you will have more value on the home and more disposable income because you’re spending less on heating and natural gas."

Although the Behns have not yet moved into the home, which is located in Stage Coach Estates on Kimball Canyon Road, Peter Behn said all the solar elements are functioning well and they plan to move in before Thanksgiving.

"We aren’t living in the house yet, but we are using the power that we’re generating for construction needs like skill saws and that sort of thing," Peter Behn said. "We’re anticipating that our utility bills will be close to what they call net zero."

The home of Andrew Martin, located at 1207 E. Whileaway Road, is also on the tour. It incorporates solar thermal and solar PV elements. Martin said he chose solar power for environmental reasons, but said having virtually no utility costs is a great benefit.

The third home in Park City that is on the tour, owned by Libecci, is located at 4203 Sunrise Drive and incorporates a solar thermal system to help heat the house. He said helping the environment, lowering his bills and taking advantage of federal and state tax incentives motivated him.

"We believe global warming is happening and it is enhanced by the burning of fossil fuels and this measure will reduce our use and dependence on natural gas," Libecci said. "Our next step is to put on PV panels, further decreasing our energy footprint by creating our own electricity. It’s time for everyone to go solar."


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