Domino Magazine The Green Life - RenÃ©e Loux, Sustainablility Guru
We love the sun - but worry that harnessing its energy means tearing our roof (and hair) out. Here, a Maui-based sustainable guru shares the joys of solar power.
When Loux, a raw-food chef and cookbook author, moved into her now-husband's Mediterranean-style ranch two years ago, they were quick to install solar panels on the roof. "We get 300 days of sun a year - it was pretty much a no-brainer to use solar energy," Loux says. Their Shell Solar installation cost about $28,000 (but will pay itself off in 3-1/2 years), causing zero damage to the existing roof and shrank monthly electric bills from $550 to $0. Plus, the 20 panels generate enough juice to power the couple's new guesthouse!
MORE BRIGHT IDEAS
To cut down on A/C costs, Loux recommends a cooling tint on south-facing windows with near-invisible film such as Vista SPectra Select. Fluorescent lights are good energy busters too. Healthy Living's full-spectrum tubes give off a warm light like incandescents, but draw less electricity and last longer.
Even if you don't live in a tropical paradise, photovoltaics - panels that convert the sun's rays into electricity - are a great option if your region is relatively sunny (check out findsolar.com for further info). What they cost in setup - typically $10,000 to $20,000 - comes back in tax incentives and electric-bill savings within a few years. If the idea of panels on your roof isn't such a turn-on (we admit they're clunky), consider photovoltaic shingles, which blend with conventional asphalt and slate roofing for a near-seamless effect.
for information, call Shell (800)947-6527