You’ve heard of a good old fashioned barn raising, right? The community comes together to build a barn in a short period of time and generates a sense of accomplishment in the process. That idea is being applied to solar hot water heating by some thoughtful and motivated Arlingtonians.
October 2010 marked the successful launch of the Solar Raisers program, a new initiative of Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE). This achievement was anticipated by several local bloggers and the installation was also covered in TBD.com, Sun Gazette, and ArlNow.com. We would be remiss if we didn’t highlight this local housing success as the pilot program moves into a full-blown program.
Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds give their time in tandem with professional solar installers. Volunteers did everything from mounting the panels on the roof to installing a specialized tank in the basement. By helping each other install the solar hot water systems, volunteers are able to cut the cost of the solar system by more than 65%. While getting started in the fall of 2010, Solar Raisers helped 3 families go solar in Arlington (1 solar raising and 2 professional installations). ACE is planning to ramp up the program in 2011, with about 5 more volunteer installations this year.
Jeff Ploetz, the first solar raising host, said that “by using the sun to heat our water, we’re expecting to cut our water heating bill by about 80%. We had hoped to do this for a long time and ACE’s Solar Raisers made it financially feasible. We are also very pleased to be supporting the growing U.S. green manufacturing sector as the entire system is made in America.”
Dan Conant, ACE Board Member and Solar Raisers founder, said that “volunteers are excited to help out with this program because it gives folks a way to help reduce our carbon emissions and make Arlington self-sufficient in a tangible, hands-on way. For so many of us, we work in an office all day, detached from the real world. Solar Raisers is a way to get involved and see a green project completed in front of your eyes.”
Assisting with the installation was Sunnovations, a McLean-based company that designed and manufactured the system. Solar Raisers chose to work with Sunnovations because the system is technically simple for volunteers to install, does not involve electrical pumps, and because the system is made in America. In addition to working with homeowners to host volunteer raisings, Solar Raisers and ACE have secured group discounts of 35 percent (or $3,500) for families that prefer to have a professional installation.
Then-County Board Chairman Jay Fisette was one of the willing volunteers that helped to install a solar hot water system as part of this pilot. Many more volunteers and homeowners have expressed interest.
If you are interested in volunteering or having a solar system installed, please contact ACE board member Dan Conant at firstname.lastname@example.org .