WAYMART – Local organizations teamed up to install a solar thermal system on a home that was revealed on Thursday morning.
Habitat for Humanity of Wayne County and Sustainable Energy Education and Development Support (SEEDS) of Northeastern Pennsylvania partnered to bring this technology to a Habitat home.
SEEDS is a local non-profit organization dedicated to promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable living.
Habitat is dedicated to building energy efficiency homes for qualified families who might not otherwise be able to afford a home.
“We're trying to promote renewable energy and Habitat is buildings homes so we thought 'why not work together,'” said Jocelyn Cramer, executive director of SEEDS.
She said they reached out to Habitat about the idea. SEEDS also wrote some grants to get funds to assist with the project.
“Habitat isn't building a new home this year so we took an existing home and upgraded their electric to solar thermal,” Cramer stated. “It will be a real upgrade in terms of efficiency.”
SEEDS met with Clyde Kreider, head of Habitat's building committee, to start planning the project.
Several existing Habitat homes were evaluated to see which one would best be suited for the solar thermal system.
The chosen house belongs to Cindy Mills, who lives on Volunteer Way in Waymart.
Her home was chosen because she had no trees that would shade the panel and the position of the roof helped to maximize the efficiency of the system.
“We wanted to share it with the community,” Cramer said. “It's a big deal. This might be the first time in the state that a solar thermal system was used in a Habitat home.”
She added solar systems have been used in Habitat homes in other states, but they can't find any other instance in Pennsylvania where that has occurred.
The idea behind solar is to keep energy costs down while maximizing energy efficiency. It will also help Habitat families succeed in their home ownership.
SEEDS will compare energy use before the system was installed on Mills' home and energy use after a year to get an idea of what savings are incurred.
SEEDS Advisory Committee member and solar installer, Blair Buselli, donated his time to the project to install the system.
Cramer said that SEEDS sponsored training sessions in 2009 that brought around 60 contractors. Several of them went on to become solar certified.
“Now you can call someone locally who can help increase solar usage,” Cramer stated.
Buselli was among those interested. He is now an approved solar installer in Pennsylvania and New York and is a North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Certified Installer.
He is part of Buselli Solutions, a family-run business located in Beach Lake.
“It really is changing the scope of how people use energy in their homes,” Buselli said. “It's pretty exciting. The system is quite simple.
“Solar hot water is the cheapest to install initially and has the quickest payback. It's hard to chart to keep a good idea of what you are saving or what you're going to save because it isn't something you can put your thumb down and say I definitely use 400 gallons of hot water a month.
“It's a little bit hard to keep track of what you are saving. Generally the rule of thumb we like to say is it will be at least $400-500 a year in savings depending on the size of your home.”
How it works
Buselli said it consists of one panel on the roof and a storage tank in the basement.
“There's no water in the system at night or when the panel isn't hot enough to heat anything up,” he stated. “At night or during the winter you don't have to worry about freezing.”
He added there are sensors on the roof and basement and a control box reads when it's okay to use heat. The circulator then pumps the water.
A heat exchanger in the basement then transfers the water to the storage tank.
“Once that's warm enough everything shuts off and the water goes through a drain back system, where all the water drains back to the basement and there's no water in the lines,” Buselli said. “There are a variety of ways you can do solar water but this is the way we prefer.”
The John and Helen Villaume Foundation in Honesdale provided a generous grant to SEEDS to cover the system cost.
All of the work was done through volunteers.
“This is a wonderful partnership,” Cramer said. “Everyone has been very supportive. There is no downside to this.”
She added they would love to continue adding solar systems on Habitat homes, but it all depends on funding.
“I hope this leads to future projects,” Cramer said. “We are still working together to figure out what that means.”
“This is a tremendous initiative we can use with SEEDS, the Villaume Foundation funding and Buselli donating their time, said Mark Graziadio, president of Habitat for Humanity in Wayne County. “It makes it a great opportunity not only for the homeowner, but also for Habitat and SEEDS.
“I think maybe it shows to other organizations in our communities that there might be others out there we can partner with.
“When you really work together you can do so much more than you've been able to do in the past.”
Kreider stated he's always looking to the future and how we can be more efficient.
“Any time you can save energy that's a good thing,” he stated. “When I came onto Habitat they were already doing an excellent job of insulating and giving a good sturdy home, bu there's still the maintenance and utility costs, so we were excited about the possibility of lowering that factor. I'm pretty pleased to see it.”
Mills said she's grateful that her home was picked to have the system installed and she's also grateful to Habitat for Humanity for building her home.
“If it wasn't for them I wouldn't have this house,” she said. “I really think this [the solar system] will help everyone and I hope it can help future houses.
“It's a great thing. They did a good job. I'm happy about it.”
For more information on Habitat for Humanity visit http://hfhwcpa.org.
For more information on SEEDS visit www.seedsgroup.net.
For more information on Buselli Solutions visit http://www.busellisolutions.com/.