Save money, natural resources |

Save money, natural resources

New Castle NewsKay VasilakisGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

What can you do to reduce your electric bill and the amount of electricity your house uses? Well, the National Solar Tour, to be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 6, will give you all kinds of ideas.Two energy-efficient, solar-powered homes in Castle Valley are part of the free tour, and are open for you to visit and learn what you can do to save energy in your home. This event is presented by the New Castle Environmental Advisory Committee, town of New Castle, SOL Energy and the American Solar Energy Society. “We’re real people and we’re living with this, we’ve been living with this for over a year,” said Doug DeNio, owner of one of the homes on the tour. “We use 10 kilowatt hours a day, compared to a national average of 30 kilowatt hours per day. Of the 10 we use, 2/3 of it comes from renewable energy from our rooftop solar electric system.”

DeNio continued, “The size of our rooftop system is 1.5 kilowatt, which costs $9-10 thousand per kilowatt. That comes to a little less than $15 thousand. I got rebates from Xcel and federal tax credits totaling nearly $9, so basically the system cost me a little over $6 thousand. I got in [the system] when the Xcel rebate program first started, and they probably have a streamlined the process by now.”The solar systems are warranted for 25 years, and control everything electric in the homes. When the houses uses less energy than what is being produced on the rooftops, the meter spins backwards.When snow is on the roof, it takes a day or two to melt off. It’s a tempered glass surface, so owners don’t have to get on top of their roofs to sweep the snow off their systems.The purpose of the self-guided tour is to let citizens, constructors and governmental officials to become familiarized with mainstream energy efficiency measures and renewable energy systems in new construction or retro-fit.

“It’s great, DeNio added. “I have very small energy bills. In January, Xcel has put in for a 10 percent increase, and we can expect the same in the foreseeable future.””There’s several components to owning a solar system. It helps with our energy security, helps to save money, helps with trying to reverse the climate change factors; saves natural resources for our children and grandchildren. That’s why we work to open our house up, so other people can see it’s worth it.”Signs will be up, and homeowners, vendors and technical experts will be on hand to answer questions. Several handouts are available for tour visitors, as well. Light refreshments will be available at the tour houses located at 25 Buckskin Circle and 468 Silverhorn Drive. And if you’re into energy efficiency, you’ll be interested in the New Castle-Glenwood Springs-Rifle Freecycle Network, which is open to all individuals who want to recycle an item rather than throw it away or sell it. It’s also available if you’re looking to acquire something yourself free.

“We have abut 90 members, said Georgene Jackson, founder of the local group. “I started it in July, with just me. I got rid of a cordless phone, a nebulizer and ableskiver, which is a Danish doughnut pan, and an office chair. If there’s anything you want, you can post it on the Web site, too. It’s pretty exciting, were hoping that it really takes off.”One main rule: everything posted must be free. Freecycle Network members use the list at their own risk This group is part of The Freecycle Network, a nonprofit organization and a movement of people interested in keeping good stuff out of landfills.Join the group online at For questions, please call Georgene at 876-0339.Kay Vasilakis’ column, “New Castle News,” appears every other Thursday. To contact her with news tips and inspirations, call 384-9118 or e-mail

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