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Solar tour features home of Don Bently

Staff reports

Don Bently’s San Hachi Ranch solar home will be on the annual Solar Home Tour Oct. 17.

Three other homes in Gardnerville and the nearby Wellington area of Lyon County will be on the tour, sponsored by the American Solar Energy Society and the Sunrise Sustainable Resources Group of Nevada.

n The 3,000 square-foot Bently home features an active solar hot water heating system with a hydronic loop for space heating and a passive solar design.

The solar-supplied radiant heat supplies 70 percent of the heating needs in the winter at an estimated savings of $3,000 per year.

On a clear day, says owner Don Bently, the system delivers more than 750,000 BTUs to available storage. The energy is stored as hot water in a 10,000 gallon tank. The stored heat, together with the large passive storage of the swimming pool area with closeable skylights and full southern glass windows, sustains the entire home at comfortable levels for four to 11 days.

“Solar heating,” Bently said, “is becoming a cost-feasible solution to the growing costs of petroleum-based fuels.”

n Marion Barritt’s 1,544 square-foot home in Chichester Estates is the first passive-active solar home to take advantage of the 1997 net-metering law, which allows customers to generate their own electricity and apply any excess electricity generated as a credit toward their utility bill for up to one year.

Starting with a regular tract house design, many energy saving devices were added, including the installation on the roof of Sunslates, solar roofing tiles which manufacture 500 to 600 watts of electricity – enough to provide for most of the home’s needs.

A radiant barrier was used in the attic to reflect heat, extra vents were installed to allow air to circulate in the attic, and the interior and exterior were painted with a liquid thermal paint. The paint reflects sunlight outside to reduce heat entering the house and to produce a lighter interior inside.

Low E-glass (a double-glazing with a filter in between the panes that doubles the insulation of ordinary windows) was utilized, fluorescent lights were installed throughout the home and energy-efficient appliances were used.

n Also on the tour is the Wellington-area home owned by Marty and Jamie Skaggs. The 2,236-square-foot house takes advantage of passive solar heating. The southern third of the house is on a solar slab made of 24 inches of crushed rock under concrete. There are a geothermally heated hot tub, low-E windows, fluorescent lights in kitchen and great room, tile floor in sunroom and office, and R-22 insulation in walls and R-60 in the roof and attic spaces.

“Our home has been heated for the last four winters with sunshine and 1-1/4 cords of wood,” Skaggs said.

n The David and Mary Swain 6,000-square-foot home is under construction, but is unusual in that it is being designed to produce the total anticipated electrical load of the house. It features the installation of a 686 square feet of Sunslates, which should produce a nominal output of 6,608 watts.

The Sunslates have been placed on the roof, so that those on the tour will be able to see the installation. Though the house has been built to be independent, it will also incorporate net-metering.

A solar RV will be parked at the home site for view.

There are 16 buildings on the tour for 1998, most of them homes. Also on the tour are the Patagonia Service Center in Reno and Capital Baptist Church in Carson City. Homes on the tour are in Reno, Incline Village and Carson City as well as those in Minden, Gardnerville and Wellington.

The Sunrise Sustainable Resources Group was formed in 1996 as a non-profit corporation to assist individuals toward self-sufficiency through education and community development.

The group has sponsored seminars, promoted education about solar energy for schools, and set up an organic garden at China Spring Youth Camp, among other activities.

For information and tickets, contact the group’s website at http://www.solarquest.com/hometour or call Marion Barritt at 782-7353 or Edible Earth at 782-2735.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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