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Published: Sunday, 10/3/2010

Owners go green, use sun and wind to power homes

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Sean Brennan and his son Nolan, 11, stand near their home in rural Bowling Green. Their devices save them money annually. Sean Brennan and his son Nolan, 11, stand near their home in rural Bowling Green. Their devices save them money annually.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

With his latest green energy project, home builder Bill Decker of Monroe County is now in the electricity business.

Last December, Mr. Decker installed 20 solar panels atop the family's Decker Horse Stables on Erie Road in Temperance. While the typical home solar array aims to wean a building off the power grid, Mr. Decker's 4-kilowatt setup feeds all the electricity it generates back into the grid.

Mr. Decker said Saturday that he's earning an average of $275 a month, or $3,300 a year, for the system's power contributions through a feed-in tariff program offered by Consumers Energy.

If the sun keeps shining, he could pay off his share of the panels' installation costs in six years or less.

"You're helping the environment and you're making money, so it's a win-win situation," said Mr. Decker, co-founder of Bedford Township-based Decker Homes. "I think it's absolutely the wave of the future."

The Decker stables is one of 22 solar, wind, and energy-efficiency sites in the region being showcased this weekend during the eighth annual Ohio Solar Tour. The self-guided open-house tours continue Sunday, with information on sites and times available at greenenergyohio.org.

In rural Bowling Green, Sean and Denise Brennan were busy Saturday showing off the wind, insulation, and geothermal heat-pump systems that are saving them hundreds of dollars a year in utility costs.

The Brennan home in rural Bowling Green is part of the 2010 Ohio Solar Tour. The residence has several energy-efficient devices. The Brennan home in rural Bowling Green is part of the 2010 Ohio Solar Tour. The residence has several energy-efficient devices.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

The geothermal pump is tied in to 1,300 feet of buried piping, which works to capture energy in the ground during colder weather. The unit then compresses the ground heat to a higher temperature and sends it inside their 3,300-square-foot home as warm air.

The process is reversed in the summer, with heat from the Brennans' home sent to the cooler earth.

To help keep the heat inside, the Brennans spent a couple thousand dollars for a sprayed polyurethane and fiberglass insulation when they built their Euler Road home in 2006. They've also installed about 100 low-energy compact fluorescent light bulbs.

The family erected a small wind turbine on their property two years ago. Mr. Brennan said they spent an initial $16,000 on the project and received a $6,000 rebate through an Ohio Department of Development renewable energy grant.

Mr. Brennan said the turbine generates about 15 percent of the family's total energy usage, saving them several hundred dollars annually. Though the cost-savings haven't been as high as they hoped, Mr. Brennan said the investment was still worth it from an environmental standpoint.

"Up front I looked at it as a way to save money on our monthly bills, but as we got into it, it's become more and more about [reducing] our carbon footprint," said Mr. Brennan, an estimator for an excavation contractor.

And in the shadow of the wind turbine sits the Brennans' backyard chicken coop, producing fresh brown eggs by the dozen without a single car trip to the store.

Contact JC Reindl at:

jreindl@theblade.com

or 419-724-6065.



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