Workshops offered on ‘greening’ your house

March 16, 2007
By

LOU MANCINELLI

Homeowners interested in learning about different ways to use alternative energy can find ideas and have questions answered by licensed professionals who work in the industry in the new “Blue is Green” informational series sponsored by Prudential Unlimited in JP.

“You hear a lot about building green and it is great,” said Thomas O’Connor of Prudential Unlimited, an environmentalist and the agent responsible for developing the series. “But there are a lot of people who say, ‘My house was built in the 1920s,’ who think they are prevented from making their house green by seemingly impossible options.

“This is not a money-making thing. This is a public service. These are all things you can do here and now,” he said, referring to the techniques the informational series will present.

The series, named for Prudential’s blue logo color and environmental green, began Wednesday evening with an informational session on solar panels. Energy use, solar hot water and gray-water reclamation are the next three scheduled discussions, which will take place once a month at the Prudential Office at 673 Centre St.

O’Connor said he wanted to start the series because he is aware there is a lot of interest in depending less on fossil fuels, but not a lot of information.

“Its been frustrating for me because I have to weed through people who are unrealistic. For example, there are people in Vermont who have built homes out of old tires. Yes, you can do all that. But not here. We don’t have that kind of space.”

According to O’Connor, environmentalists often get stuck in the category of either wanting reform through politics, or they are unrealistic.

“I want real people concerned with reality and right now,” he said. O’Connor also said he expects the question-and-answer session to be one of the important features of the series.

According to O’Connor, the alternative energy options that will be presented could reduce energy usage in the home by up to 70 percent. He said there are myriad state and federal tax grants available that could subsidize almost half of project costs.

Solar panels
Solar panels, the topic covered on Wednesday, work by absorbing power from photons. Photons are the basic particles of sunlight.

According to O’Connor, solar panels work even better on shady days due to the amount of photons hitting the panel.

O’Connor said solar panels facilitate excellent energy usage and utility bill reduction, because while you are not using electricity in the house, power is still being collected by the panels.

For example, he said, during the day you may not use electricity in your house, but the energy produced by your panels may be used by other homes nearby. This would cause your electric meter to move in the opposite direction it moves when you consume power. When you came home at night and began to use power, the meter would shift back the other way.

If you produce more money then you consume, the electric company would give you a check, O’Connor said. He added that this was unlikely, but said it was a strong example of how effective a tool solar panels could be. Either way, you are still producing your own energy and relying less on fossil fuels.

O’Connor said that, for example, if it cost $25,000 dollars to install solar panels on your house, you could be subsidized by grants or tax rebates up to $12,000. He said often times the cost of the panels is accounted for in the amount of money saved over time.

For more information and session times, contact O’Connor at 648-4437.