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To see how Andrews and 15 others are tapping into the energy of the sun, take the Denver Metro Tour of Solar Homes, hosted by the Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES), from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13. The tour features 16 innovative houses in Denver, Golden, Littleton, Idaho Springs, Evergreen and Conifer. Nationally, the Tour of Solar Homes opens the doors to hundreds of passive and active solar homes across the country.
"When everyone else is preparing for the onslaught of winter heating bills, we solar homeowners are tidily counting our savings," Andrews said. "If you live in a sunny climate such as Colorado and do not take advantage of it, you are throwing money out the window."
In conjunction with the tour, the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is hosting an Exhibitor Showcase featuring more than two dozen local companies and organizations that provide renewable energy and energy efficiency products and services. The Exhibitor Showcase is open for two days at the NREL Visitors Center, located at 15013 Denver West Parkway in Golden, from noon to 7 p.m. Oct. 12 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 13. The Exhibitor Showcase is free and open to the public.
The Denver-area self-guided home tour starts at NREL's Visitors Center. Tour guidebooks, including maps to the homes and descriptions of solar energy features, can be purchased at the Visitors Center for $10 on Friday, Oct. 12 from noon until 7 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 13 after 9:30 a.m. The cost of the tour is $10 per car.
CRES has organized two free workshops designed to spread the word on solar electricity: Solar Electricity for Your Home instructed by NREL's John Thornton and Byron Stafford Oct. 23 and Solar Hot Water for Your Home Oct. 25. The Solar Hot Water for Your Home workshop will be given by staff from Industrial Solar Technology, a company based in Golden. Both workshops will be from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Visitors Center.
To get to the NREL Visitors Center, take I-70 to Denver West Boulevard, Exit 263, and travel north to Denver West Parkway. Turn left and continue past the Marriott Hotel to the NREL Visitors Center.
For more information on area tours or for information on the National Tour of Homes, visit CRES. For additional information on the Exhibitors Showcase or for directions to the Visitors Center. For more information on the CRES sponsored workshops, call 303-806-5317.
Visit NREL online at www.nrel.gov.