BEAT’s Green Drinks lets the sun shine in


PITTSFIELD -- In the world of renewables, you first conserve, then move on to bigger and better. It’s easier than you think, according to energy guru Stu Besnoff of Windsor.

Besnoff shared his expertise during the Berkshire Environmental Action Team’s Green Drinks at Mad Jack’s BBQ Tuesday.

"Right now there are homes in Massachusetts that exclusively use energy produced on their property," Besnoff said. "There’s a lack of information on how straightforward and simple it can be."

"We should be the leading solar-energy county in Massachusetts," added Tom Tyning, professor of environmental science at Berkshire Community College.

But the name of the game is conservation, or "using less and still being comfortable," Besnoff said.

With this in mind, he brought props: Various forms of insulation, including fiberglass, foam board, cellulose and bubble foil. Programmable thermostats, energy efficient appliances and the always-useful unplugging of items not in use were also advocated.

Besnoff’s own ultra-low energy home in Windsor demonstrates many of the products his company, Alpine Solar Heat and Hot Water, sells. These include solar energy collectors -- multiple-tubed, glass devices that mount to homes -- solar water tanks and more.

Next year, Besnoff said he hopes to improve his home to zero-net energy.

One major point of Besnoff’s is that people interested in greening up their homes hardly face the sorts of barriers they might think.

First of all, one can reap the benefits of tax credits for doing so.

"The Massachusetts income tax credit is 15 percent of what you spend and the federal government is 30 percent of what you spend," Besnoff said. "So you get back almost half."

Sticking to the financial side of things, people like Besnoff and electric companies offer to crunch numbers for anyone seeking to see what they stand to save -- or lose -- by going solar.

And one need not be technically proficient to operate and maintain a solar hot water heater or other solar device at one’s home. You can hire a contractor to do so, just like you would your gas or propane heating system.

Tyning said solar should become the wave of the future.

"It’s cheaper for cities, towns, counties and states," he said.

Besnoff concurred, saying, "It’s moving much slower than I want it to, but it’s definitely moving."

To reach Phil Demers:
or (413) 281-2859.
On Twitter: @BE_PhilD


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