Originally published, 2014 Maryland Solar Tour guide by Ron Kaltenbaugh.
The first weekend in October – little did I realize six years ago that this weekend would become so important to me. Discovering the solar tour has sent me down a path leading to many changes in my life, our house, our driving habits, and even new friends.
“Going Solar” had been something I’d thought about, but not actively pursued, before visiting homes on the Solar Tour. By year two, I started to think, “Yeah, we should seriously look into doing this.” By the 2010 Solar Tour we were in the process of having 37 solar panels installed. Visiting those homes in 2010, I was already thinking, “Next year we should have our home on the tour.”
Once those panels went up, I had joined a new community and started meeting so many people and making so many connections that led to more actions. The first two important connections were to Green Drinks and the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, D.C. (EVADC). Green Drinks is a monthly get-together of people interested in green technologies and sustainability. Through Green Drinks I met folks, both homeowners and installers, which led to a geothermal system when we needed to replace our HVAC system in 2012. I also met folks involved with the Green Homes Challenge (www.frederickgreenchallenge.org) and participated with their challenges. In 2013 the Green Homes Challenge Solarize program was launched, and I became a Green Ambassador volunteering at events to help get the word out about the program and about solar. The program reduced costs so much we added 32 panels to our solar system.
EVADC (www.evadc.org) has been another great source of friends and new paths to travel. The group meets monthly, and members volunteer their time at events showing their cars and educating people about electric vehicles. In 2012, we made the move and leased a Nissan Leaf. Just having the Leaf has led to lots of interactions when people ask about it and want to know more. Our main action in 2014 was replacing our lawn tractor
with a Cub Cadet RZT-S Zero all-electric lawn tractor. It is so quiet, and there is no need to fill the gas can or smell those gas fumes. I firmly believe that EVs are the future.
Since we’ve done about all we can do for our home, I needed to find new outlets, so this Spring I became a member of the Frederick County Sustainability Commission. This is a group of county residents who volunteer their time to help chart a course for a more sustainable Frederick county. As I think back about the steps we’ve taken, it is easy to just think of all the technology and what was purchased. However, the impact on myself has been so much more than that. I’ve literally met hundreds of people and made many friends through all of this. And it all started
one fall day in October 2008. Hope to see you on the tour this year.