The American Solar Energy Society’s (ASES) 9th Annual National Solar Tour kicks off on Saturday, October 2, 2004 with more than 1,800 homes, businesses and public buildings open to visitors in 800 communities across the U.S. Participants will have the opportunity to see first-hand the successful use of many forms of renewable energy including passive solar design, wind energy, solar hot water and solar-electric generating systems in a variety of buildings.Boulder, Colorado – September 15, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] Strategies for integrating solar into buildings and the benefits such as lowering electric utility costs by as much as 60 percent and increasing comfort for building residents will be discussed in detail. This year’s tour is expected to draw as many as 40,000 visitors nationwide. Last year, more than 33,000 people toured 1,750 homes, schools and other buildings in 45 states. “The National Solar Tour gives people the chance to meet directly with others who have incorporated energy efficiency and solar design features in their buildings to save energy,” said Brad Collins, ASES Executive Director. “Visitors can experience the comfort of increased daylight in buildings, learn about the benefits of solar and other forms of renewable energy, watch electric meters run backwards, and see the actual savings on utility bills in buildings in their community. But most importantly, they can learn from their neighbors what works in their town.” Many local tours showcase a variety of buildings, such as traditional city and suburban homes with solar features, schools and business offices integrating passive solar design, solar hot water and solar-electric generating systems, and rural homes not connected to the public utility grid. Tour coordinators are working in communities nationwide to organize visits to solar buildings in each area. In addition to receiving tour maps and background materials on solar energy, tour participants can talk with home owners and business owners about why and how they integrated solar designs into their buildings. Like many of the first-time attendees on the National Solar Tour, a number of the people showing their homes or businesses knew little or nothing about solar design and solar electric generation before deciding to integrate it into their buildings. Having made the decision to go solar, building owners report satisfaction not only with their buildings and energy costs, but also with the fact that they are producing energy that does not add to global warming or cause pollution when it is imported and transported yet again. To find a tour near you, see the link below.