2003 National Solar Tour Offers First-Hand Look at Successful Uses of Solar in Private Homes, Government Buildings, and Businesses

Tour participants in 480 communities nationwide will visit more than 1,200 buildings incorporating passive solar designs and solar-electric generation systems

Boulder, Colorado, August 25, 2003 - 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 hundreds of 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 designs 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 kW solar electric system with inverter and battery backup worth over $11,000! 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."

The tour features a variety of buildings, such as traditional city and suburban homes with solar features, business offices integrating passive solar design 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 this year's event include:
· The owner of 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; and
· 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.

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 the pollution problem as it imported and transported around the country.

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

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.

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