While Michigan is the second cloudiest state in the nation, Norm McKinney looks to the sun to cut his utility bills.
According to urbanoptions.org, more than 30,000 solar energy systems were installed in Michigan homes between 1974 and 1991.
McKinney installed one in his 108-year-old farm house on Bowers Road. "It cut $100 a month off my heating bill," he said.
Accordingto the Tax Incentives Assistance Project, on-site renewables, whichincludes solar systems, are now eligible for a federal tax incentiveworth 30% off their total cost. McKinney said there’s also a state taxcredit available for solar installations.
Michigan residents,according to Green-Planet-Solar-Energy.com, receive a 100% personalproperty tax exemption on the installation of any qualifying solarpower or other renewable energy installation. This means the state willnot up the property value based on the installation.
McKinney, alongwith business associate Richard Johnson, recently formed AmericanEducational Technologies Management Inc. He’s offering a four-nightsolar seminar at Mott Community College’s Lapeer Extension Center, 550Lake Drive, Lapeer starting May 5.
The pair want to spread their word on how using solar systems can be good for the environment and homeowner’s pocketbooks.
"Solaris not a panacea," said McKinney, who once taught construction tradesat Pontiac Business Trades in Oxford. That’s because, according tostatistics from the National Oceanographic and AtmosphericAdministration (NOAA), Southeast Michigan only has about 75 completelyclear days a year and about 175 that are completely cloud covered.
Still,he said, a solar installation in conjunction with an existing forcedair or hot water heating system can result in significant energysavings. One way a solar system can cut down on utility bills, he said,is by preheating fresh air drawn into a home heating system.
McKinneysaid a solar system can eliminate the need for a pool heater forswimming pool owners. "I had a 33-by-18 (foot) pool in Cadillac that Iheated to 90-degrees," he said.
"There are lots of easy ways to do things that will cut your electric bill," he said.
McKinneysaid he will cover all those ways during his seminar from 6-9 p.m. May5, 7, 12 and 14 in Room 200 at Mott. He said there will be a $60 feefor all four sessions.
"We’ll show people how to building theirown solar collector for less than $100," he said. McKinney said somesolar solutions are as simple as placing insulated panels in southfacing windows at night.