Last week I told you about the Solar Home Tour, did any of you go? It was so completely cool. Despite the rain and decidedly NOT solar sky, the tour featured amazing homes, homeowners and information. I was fascinated by how each home used solar in completely different ways!
The first home was right here, Above the 134, in La Crescenta. Ted Baumgart showed his unique expression of art, masquerading as a house, on Mountain St., off of Briggs. (you can see a little bit of the home in my 12 seconds feature on the right side bar) The home is tactile, earthy and idiosyncratic. Every inch is the personal expression of a deeply happy and optimistic human being. Ted employs solar by using the principles of thermal mass to absorb heat during the hot day and radiate heat during the cooler nights.
Next up was Jerry and Gloria Schneider's Mt. Washington home. Jerry is civil engineer, by trade. His home showcases the possibilities of good solar design in architecture. He maximizes the orientation of his home to utilize passive solar energy. An example of this is the large breakfast room that features huge picture windows. In the summer, when the sun is high in the sky, the deep overhangs keep the strong heat from entering the house. However, in the winter, when the sun is lower, afternoon sun gets in and warms the Saltillo tile floors. At night, these tile floors radiate their warmth, keeping the home at near even temps at all times.
The best learning experience, however, was at Dr. Peter Parrish's home, also in Mt. Washington. Dr. Parrish also built his home from the ground up and passive solar is an important part of the design. However, there is also a large photovoltaic solar array that provides half the energy needed to run this home.
Considering that I think I heard Sarah Palin utter the phrase, "energy independence" a dozen times last week, I was very interested in learning more about these panels! First up, they are very sexy. Yup, you heard me right. Sexy. Dark, sleek and very cutting edge/high tech. These are not for the casually green folks! But, I truly believe these panels are not as expensive as you might think... and the economic bail out bill had a very sweet bit buried deep within.
I'll let Dr. Parrish explain... Did you hear him?! Up to $8,000 tax credit for you and for me if we choose to get these sexy sexy panels! This could take the recapture rate (time it takes the system to pay for itself) from 10 years down to maybe 7.
More info? Peter Parrish at 323-258-8883. www.calsolaeng.com. I found him informative, easy to understand and utterly charming. Questions are free. What have you got to lose?