Let the sun shine – and save

<p>Visitors take a look at life off the grid during an earlier tour in Grant County. The John Day Solar Tour is coming up on Oct. 6.</p>

JOHN DAY – The John Day Solar Tour, set for Saturday, Oct. 6, will look at innovative energy solutions in one commercial building and two homes.

The tour starts at 11 a.m. at the Outpost Restaurant in John Day.

Organizer Jennifer Barker noted that because every dollar saved on energy is a dollar we can spend on something else, the tour will visit sites that use innovative solutions to lower their energy footprint.

Attendees will learn about features that make a home or business an energy-producer instead of an energy-waster, and make it more comfortable and attractive to live in as well.

The day will begin with a one-hour slide show on inexpensive and do-it-yourself solar projects, including ways to save money and increase comfort in existing homes. The group will break at noon for a no-host lunch, then form a carpool for the tour at 1 p.m.

The first stop, the Grant County Historical Museum, was the object of an energy-oriented restoration project coordinated by EORenew: weatherization, lighting and a grid-tied solar electric system.

Canyon City recorder Tammy Bremner says “there has been a significant reduction in energy costs since the project.” An added bonus, says museum curator Jayne Primrose, is the enhanced comfort level in the building.

The next stop will be a home with solar hot water and solar electric “backup” system. This system is designed to feed excess power into the utility for credit when it is producing more than the home requires, but to take over seamlessly in the event of a power outage. Combined with the solar hot water, it offsets a major portion of the home’s energy costs.

The final stop on the tour is the off-grid Bear Valley home of Jennifer and Lance Barker. Solar electricity provides for all the home’s power needs, including irrigating a large garden. High-altitude gardening techniques ensure that the gardens will still be producing well into the later fall season. A warm-season solar hot water setup complements the home’s wood stoves which produce heat, cooking, and hot water from the onsite forest resource.

The Tour is organized nationally by the American Solar Energy Society, and locally by the Eastern Oregon Renewable Energies nonprofit (EORenew). For more information, call Jennifer Barker at 541-575-3633.

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