Solar Tour 2005

October 4th, 2005

How do we do energy different? Solar is so passive… yawn… it doesn’t really jump up and do anything, but thanks to the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society, and sponsors Xcel Energy, Aveda and Great River Energy, we can spend a beautiful fall day on the Solar Tour 2005 learning exactly how others are doing it! And that’s anything but passive! Those who opened their homes to the masses were inspiring.

Here’s the Brorn home, in Winona:


They built it themselves, and in addition to solar hot water, they have been continuously updating, everything from reinsulating parts of the roof that weren’t quite right, to louvers over southern windows to shelter the interior from direct sunlight, to a … well, look at the photo, the wood shade over the front porch… don’t know what to call it. They also had a Honda Accord hybrid on display, but the mileage was only about 30mpg on the highway, not any better than my vintage Diamante. That was the only disappointment of the day.

Next up was the Huelskamp/Hutchinson off-grid home. Rich is a renewable energy contractor, designer, etc., as Sun’s Warmth, and their dome home is amazing, very comfortable, beautifully built, and it’s easy to imagine living like that! Here’s the shop with solar, the wind turbine in the background, and the electric solar is behind the shop.


I had an errand to run in the cities, so the Garvin/Jacobson home was the next stop, near the old ‘hood, in Seward neighborhood. Their home was a great example of what regular people can do, and again, it was done beautifully, so much so that their back yard was an oasis from the city. Peonies were available for the taking, and at that point I noticed that there is a direct correlation between park-like yards covered in wild varieties of plants, anything but BORING GREEN GRASS, and solar homes! I feel a marketing strategy coming on…


Their home had the most amazing spiral staircase to the very top level with a tree trunk in the middle of the spiral. This one, because it was an old house like mine, was my favorite because they creatively altered it to fit their lives.

And last but not least is Christine Ziebold’s home:


She and John were married last week in Wirth Park (been there, done that, and in Wirth Park too!), and she’s part of a health conference at the U (drat, can’t find the link, name, or anything). They’ve covered every inch of the southern side of the roof with solar, both for heat and electricity, and rave about Ralph Jacobson’s Innovative Power Systems! She says that the only way to go is with someone who can design it, install it, and most importantly, who will be around for service if necessary.

That’s Solar Tour 2005 in a nutshell. There were too many houses to cover, but it was a good excuse to get out and burn up some gas… hmmm… is there something wrong with this picture?

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