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Learn ways to ‘green’ your home at Aug. 7-8 Renewable Energy Fair

August 4, 2010

By Drs. Robert & Sonia Vogl
President and Vice President
Illinois Renewable Energy Association

Homeowners who want to make their houses more energy efficient wil have plenty of opportunities to learn at this year’s Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair, Aug. 7-8, at Ogle County Fairgrounds near Oregon, Ill.

The best place to begin implementing efficiency is through efficiency itself—improved insulation. Setting the stage for the consideration of lower utility bills will be a presentation by Jim Lamb in which he will explain how to use solar energy, conservation and sustainability for maximum payback with minimal environmental impact. He will provide guidelines for evaluating a family’s energy profile, their best options for solar systems, and will also address the often-voiced concern of payback.

Dave Kozlowski’s overview will provide guidelines on “greening” home remodeling based on years of helping people achieve the green house they hoped for a at lower cost than standard. He will also point out the benefits of green remodeling and using earth-friendly material efficiently for improving air quality and comfort, and reducing energy and water use. Samples of green building materials will be available for examination.

Back by popular demand is a “Tale of two houses” by Roland Wolff, who winterized a northern Wisconsin home for year-round use. After a year of job-imposed exile, he and his wife returned to the 150-year-old farmhouse of their dreams realizing that winter is a big part of life there. Learn how they made the transition from windows that blew out candles to a soundproof, leakproof home.

Natural home design by Lou Host-Jablonski will explain the use of straw-clay construction, which uses all-natural, often locally obtained materials, to build an efficient, low-toxin home. He will continue the demonstration with Jim Hutchison, who used the technique to build a large straw-clay farm shed.

Do-it-yourselfers will enjoy the presentation by college students of Andy Erbach, who designed, built and installed a home solar heating system, and Robert Croteau’s demonstration of a low-cost solar hot air collector that can be built in a weekend.

Research-oriented audiences will enjoy Bill Miller’s report of four energy-efficient homes built with different energy-saving materials and designs with the goal of re-using energy use by 50 percent.

For those who want to follow a model, a session on “Demystifying LEED for homes” by Jason LaFleur will explain what LEED means and how individuals can use its guidelines to improve their homes.

Still further is building an entirely new house. Although the square footage of American homes has increased dramatically during the past half century, the trend may be reversing itself. Many households consist of only one person who does not need that much space. Kevin Donovan will propose a 1,000-square-foot house that will use 80 percent less energy than a traditionally-built similar-sized house, but will cost only $100,000. He will also outline his plan for learning through participation in the actual building of the house, which should begin sometime within the next year.

Rick and Seth McCanse will lead a discussion focused about building efficient houses, covering factors that should be considered before building an energy-efficient new home.

This will be a beneficial weekend for improvement-oriented homeowners.

Major sponsors of the Aug. 7-8 fair include The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, The Rock River Times, ComEd and Clean Line Energy Partners.

Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl are founders and officers of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA) and coordinate the annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair. The Vogls and the IREA are members of the Environmental Hall of Fame. Dr. Robert Vogl is vice president of Freedom Field, and Dr. Sonia Vogl is a member of Freedom Field’s Executive Committee. The Vogls consult on energy efficiency, renewable energy and green building. They have 3.2 kW of PV and a 1 kW wind generator at their home. Forty acres of their 180-acre home farm are in ecological restorations. They are active in preserving natural areas and are retired professors from Northern Illinois University. E-mail sonia@essex1.com.

From the Aug. 4-10, 2010 issue

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