Boulder, Colorado - The American Solar Energy Society's (ASES) 8th Annual National Solar Tour kicks off on Saturday, October 4, 2003 with more than 1,200 homes, businesses and public buildings open to visitors in 480 communities across the U.S. Participants will have the opportunity to see first-hand the successful use of many forms of renewable energy including passive solar design, wind energy, solar hot water, and solar-electric generating systems in a variety of buildings. Strategies for integrating solar into buildings and the benefits—such as lowering electric utility costs by as much as 60 percent and increasing comfort for building residents—will be discussed in detail. This year's tour is expected to draw as many as 30,000 visitors nationwide. Tour attendees will also have the opportunity to win a free 2,000 Watt solar electric system with inverter and battery storage system worth over $11,000, plus many other prizes. Last year, more than 26,000 people toured 1,222 homes, schools and other buildings in 44 states.

"The National Solar Tour gives people the chance to meet directly with others who have incorporated solar design features in their buildings and use photovoltaic energy in their daily lives," says Brad Collins, ASES Executive Director. "Visitors can experience the comfort of increased daylight in buildings, learn about the benefits of solar and other forms of renewable energy, watch electric meters run backwards, and see the actual savings on utility bills in buildings in their community."

Many local tours showcase a variety of buildings, such as traditional city and suburban homes with solar features, schools and business offices integrating passive solar design, solar hot water and solar-electric generating systems, and rural homes not connected to the public utility grid. In addition to solar cooking competitions, solar boat, bike and car races, examples of tours and discussions to be held as part of this year's event include:

· The owner of a three-bedroom, two-bath home in suburban Denver who has recouped his investment in passive solar design strategies many times over and enjoys a comfortable, light-filled house year-round;

· A New Hampshire couple who live in the "home of their dreams" in a beautiful house powered entirely with a mix of solar energy and energy from other renewable sources;
· A large medical office in Eastern Texas that integrates daylighting strategies and solar electric generating systems to create a welcoming, highly efficient environment for staff and for patients;
· A Los Angeles family that meets almost 50 percent of their daily electric needs using solar panels placed on a small part of the roof on their one-story home;
· An Iowa event will include a tour of Top of Iowa Wind Farm-Northern Iowa Windpower, LLC
· A North Dakota tour will host environmental activist Red Crow Westerman, third lead (Chief Ten Bears) in Kevin Costner's "Dances with Wolves" as their keynote speaker; and
· Tours throughout the U.S. will include examples of straw bale construction, dome, and earth-sheltered homes.

Tour coordinators are working in communities nationwide to organize visits to solar buildings in each area. In addition to receiving tour maps and background materials on solar energy, tour participants can talk with home owners and business owners about why and how they integrated solar designs into their buildings. Like many of the first-time attendees on the National Solar Tour, a number of the people showing their homes or businesses knew little or nothing about solar design and solar electric generation before deciding to integrate it into their buildings. Having made the decision to go solar, building owners report satisfaction not only with their buildings and energy costs, but also with the fact that they are producing energy that does not add to global warming or cause pollution when it is imported and transported yet again.

To find a tour coordinator in your area, please visit the ASES Web site at www.ases.org or pick up a copy of the September/October issue of SOLAR TODAY, the award-winning, bi-monthly magazine published by ASES. SOLAR TODAY can be found at many book and magazine stores, as well as purchased online through the ASES web site.

2003 ASES National Tour Sponsors
Department of Energy (DOE)/Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Xantrex Technology, Inc., National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Solar Electric Inc., Evergreen Solar, Inc., Solar Design Associates, Sun Frost, Interstate Renewable Energy Council - Media Sponsors - Mother Earth News, SOLAR TODAY magazine, Natural Home magazine, Home Power magazine, Calenergy.org, RenewableEnergyAccess.com.

About the American Solar Energy Society
The American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is a national organization dedicated to advancing the use of solar energy for the benefit of U.S. citizens and the global environment. ASES promotes the widespread near-term and long-term use of solar energy. ASES sponsors the National Solar Energy Conference, publishes SOLAR TODAY magazine and Advances in Solar Energy, publishes white papers, sponsors issue Roundtables in Washington, D.C., distributes solar publications, organizes a Solar Action Network and has regional chapters nationwide. ASES is the United States Section of the International Solar Energy Society.

2400 Central Avenue, Suite A · Boulder, Colorado 80301 · 303/443-3130
Fax: 303/443-3212 · e-mail: ases@ases.org · www.ases.org

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