See Solar Homes Near You! 5 Reasons to Attend the National Solar Tour

article image
This Missouri house has been featured on the ASES National Solar Tour. It incorporates passive solar design (most of the windows on the south, calculated window overhangs), solar water heating, and a 3-kilowatt solar-electric system.

Here’s your chance to see solar power in action! Every fall, the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) organizes the National Solar Tour, which is held in communities across the United States. 2009 marks the 14th annual tour of solar homes, and more than 150,000 people are expected to attend tours in 49 states. 

The main tour date is Saturday, Oct. 3, but many affiliated tours are scheduled throughout the fall. Check the ASES Solar Tour Homepage to find a tour near you.

So, why should you attend the National Solar Tour? Here are a few good reasons to check it out:

  1. See solar homes. You don’t get a chance to tour green homes every day. According to ASES, survey results from previous years show that 74 percent of tour participants had never visited a solar or green home prior to this event. Well, this is your chance to see renewable energy in action and have your questions answered. Tours feature many types of home renewable energy systems, including passive solar design, home solar-electric systems, and solar water and space heaters — as well as wind turbines and geothermal heating.
  2. Get inspired to go solar yourself. Seeing solar technologies with your own eyes can help convince you that solar power is feasible for your home. According to ASES survey results, 76 percent of participants said they are very likely to invest in solar or energy-efficient technology after the tour, compared to less than 50 percent before the tour.
  3. Get the local angle. You can tap into renewable energy all across the United States, but there are some significant regional differences in costs, regulations and energy potential. To begin with, some areas have great natural wind resources, while others are hot spots for solar. State and local financial incentives vary widely, too. If you’re looking for this kind of local information, the closest solar homes tour is a great place to start exploring what works best in your area and why.
  4. Connect with local groups. The National Solar Tour is a truly grassroots effort with many affiliated groups, including the 40 regional chapters of the American Solar Energy Society. Connect with a tour and you’ll learn more about these local organizations and what’s shaking with renewable energy in your area. You’ll meet lots of interesting people, too!
  5. Show your support for renewable energy. OK, so you may not be in the market for solar panels right now. But if you’re inspired by the idea of a world powered by clean, renewable energy, this is a great place to come out and celebrate the promise of solar power. It’s the largest grassroots solar event in the United States, so come be a part of it this year! Also, be sure to check out MOTHER EARTH NEWS CU, our photo sharing website, for photos of homes from previous tours.

Have you ever attended the National Solar Tour? Tell us where you took the tour and what you thought of it by posting a comment below.

Megan E. Phelps is a freelance writer based in Kansas. She enjoys reading and writing about all things related to sustainable living including homesteading skills, green building and renewable energy. You can find her on .