Douglas County Green & Solar Tour slated for Saturday!

News-Review, Thursday October 6, 2012


WILBUR — Ken and Jenny Carloni built their dream house on the shore of the North Umpqua River, mindful of the impact it would make on the environment.

The couple’s four-story Wilbur home, completed in 2009, was constructed with salvaged cedar and is powered by solar panels.

The house will be among the homes and businesses included Saturday in the Douglas County Global Warming Coalition’s Green and Solar Home Tour. The tour, which will stop at three homes, a winery and a school, is designed to inspire residents who are thinking about embarking on solar or other energy conservation projects, said Scott McKain, a member of the Douglas County Global Warming Coalition.

“It really helps to see what your neighbors are doing,” he said.

Ken Carloni, 58, said he will open up his house “to encourage, show other folks that there are alternatives out there and that they are economical.”

Carloni, an Umpqua Community College biology professor and board president of the conservation group Umpqua Watersheds, said he strives to do what he can to protect the environment, “so you don’t leave a burden when you leave.”

In late August, the couple switched on 28 solar panels installed on their property. Carloni said he expects the panels to cover about two-thirds of their home’s energy use. The solar panels aren’t directly attached to the house, but instead connect to a nearby power pole to supply energy.

Ken Carloni said the couple had long wanted their home to be solar-powered, but didn’t realize until recently the perfect location for the panels was an unused hillside on their six acres that gets plenty of sunlight.

“I overlooked this spot for years,” he said.

It cost about $33,000 to install the solar panel system, but the couple will get a federal rebate of $5,000 and a state rebate of $6,000, bringing the cost of the project down to $22,000, Carloni said.

The expense will be worth it over time, said Jenny Carloni, 54.

“In 13 years, we should be getting our energy for free,” she said.

The solar panels move them closer to powering their home with zero carbon emissions, she said.

The Carloni home took seven years to build. They bought the property in 1994 and in 1996 finished a smaller house that’s now attached to their main house.

Ken Carloni said the house’s design makes it more energy efficient. In the summer, breezes that come through the skylights suck hot air out of the house, he said. It means they have no need for air conditioning, which consumes a lot of energy, Carloni said.

A 360-gallon tank in the basement holds water that was heated by the sun in glass tubes on the roof. This saves energy because the water heater usually only has to heat up the water several degrees, Carloni said.

“In the summer, it gives us way more hot water than we need,” he said.

Carloni said he’s proud of the house that he and his wife built, doing a lot of work themselves. It’s constructed from cedar that would have gone to waste because of small flaws, he said.

“No contractor would have built this house,” he said. “There are so many details in this place that people don’t see them all.”

Click here for DC Green & Solar Tour event info.