Damariscotta Family Goes Solar for the Next Generation
Solar Power | November 6, 2012 | Posted by Fred Greenhalgh
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Karen Kleinkopf and Tim Goltz decided to invest in a solar hot water system for three good reasons: Emma, Lily and Clara.
They had been considering solar energy for a while, but knew it was time to take action when they realized that their three daughters were approaching their teenage years. “I’d much rather have the sun pay for showers than me,” Tim says.
Since installing solar hot water last year, the family now uses the sun’s energy to heat the bulk of their domestic hot water. As we visited them to do this story, Lily brought out her digital camera and proudly shows off photos she took of the ReVision Energy crew on their roof as they installed 60 evacuated solar hot water tubes.
The system works by using the sun’s energy to heat a non-toxic antifreeze mix which passes through rooftop solar collectors to a super-insulated hot water tank in the basement, where the fluid travels through a heat exchange coil and transfers solar heat to the domestic hot water supply. The purpose-built solar storage tank has a high capacity and thick insulation, designed to store enough solar hot water to sustain the household through a few days of cloudy weather. Their existing propane boiler kicks in automatically when the temperature in the solar hot water tanks drops below a set temperature, generally 110 degrees.
The solar hot water system is expected to save the Goltz-Kleinkopf family $650 or more each year. However, going solar wasn’t simply a financial motivation – it also serves as a model for good energy choices. Tim hopes their decision to install solar will inspire their daughters to “live in a mindful way and be respectful of the earth.”
Sustainability at Home
For the Goltz-Kleinkopfs, living sustainably starts at home. Everyone does their share of gardening, composting, air-drying laundry, recycling, turning off unnecessary lights, and stacking wood. Their daughter Lily pipes up, “We stack a lot of wood.”
They seek to walk the talk in their work life, too. As a doctor at Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta, Tim is working to improve food options for the Maine Health system. Karen is getting healthy local food into schools with the non-profit she co-founded called FARMS (Focus on Agriculture in Rural Maine Schools). Finding a source of clean, renewable energy was the next step towards sustainability for their family.
Getting Started with Solar
Tim met ReVision Energy project manager Hans Albee at a sustainable energy conference in Damariscotta. At the time they had been considering a proposal from another solar installer. After Hans came out for a site evaluation and consideration of both proposals, they decided to go with ReVision Energy based on the company’s excellent track record and expertise. Once they gave the go ahead, they found that the process (even the rebate paperwork) was easy with help and guidance from ReVision Energy. “Jen in the office did a great job of informing us what the steps would be,” Tim notes.
Tim confesses that he doesn’t keep track of how much they are saving on fuel by using solar hot water. However, he does notice that it works. Every so often the power goes out and their propane boiler stops working until they reset it, but the solar collectors keep heating their water. Tim says sometimes a week can go by before he realizes the propane boiler isn’t working because they have all the hot water they need. “That makes me feel good about how [the solar hot water] is working.”
It’s evident that the Goltz-Kleinkopfs have made the environment a priority, and their choices have influenced their three daughters. Nine year old Clara declares her future plans: “I want to be president when I grow up . . .and my platform is for us to go back to horse and buggies and for everyone to have a garden.”
So voters, get ready to see Clara Goltz on the ballot – and sustainability as the platform!