Sunday tour will visit a dozen local energy-efficient homes
It’s like a garden tour for the energy efficient-minded.
That’s how the Mahoosuc Land Trust is describing Sunday’s “Eco-Home Tour,” which will visit a dozen homes in the area that feature energy-conserving systems.
“If you are thinking about trying a solar installation, on or off the grid, if you are curious about wind power for personal use, if a wood pellet boiler might work for you, or maybe hydro-power or passive solar, the Eco-Home Tour will be helpful to you,” said Bonnie Pooley, MLT board president.
Some of the homes are brand new, some middle-aged, and two were build in the 1840s and 1852, respectively.
“Each home owner will talk about and show (where possible) how much the system cost, what the benefits have been, what the downsides are, whether he or she has more plans in the works,” said Pooley. “Some homeowners will have their builder or designer there to give further information.”
And for the botanical-minded, said Pooley, “some of them have really nice gardens, too.”
The tour will take place from 1 to 5:30 p.m. in Bethel and the surrounding area.
To participate, go to the Mahoosuc Land Trust office starting at noon on Aug. 4 and pay a nominal fee per person to get the list of homes and a map. Tour-goers may visit homes at their own pace and choose the ones most helpful to them.
The Mahoosuc Land Trust office on Route 2 in Mayville (next to Crossroads Diner) will also have representatives from Community Concepts (for energy audits) and Maine Energy Systems.
One house on the tour is the passive solar home belonging to Ken Hotopp of Newry.
He has lived in the new, well-insulated home for a year. He provided some figures on his energy costs:
“For heating, we used $230 worth of electricity and burned about a half-cord of firewood. So if you had to buy the wood, you’d have maybe $350 for the total heating bill. For a house over 2,500 square feet that is pretty good.”
He estimates that to heat the home with oil would have cost roughly $3,500 a year.
Building the house cost about $25,000 more than it would have otherwise, he said. But he projects the energy savings will pay for the difference in about seven years.
“We also have a solar system for hot water,” said Hotopp. “For hot water we spent $80 this year. We did get tax breaks and refunds for that system. It will pay for itself in five years.
“So, our home now uses the sun in three ways - for interior heating (through the south-facing windows), for heating hot water, and for electric power... all three of these investments will save us money, as well as help protect our global climate.”