Solar home promotes alternative energy use

An open house was held Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. to celebrate the completion of the house, which will be lived in by Ty Newell, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering and vice president of Newell Instruments Inc., and his wife Debra Newell.

Ty Newell and his son collaborated with Urbana residents Ivan, Brian and Brad Richardson to design and construct the Equinox House.

The house is completely powered by solar energy, and its energy collection system will provide energy to an electric car as well.

Solar Panels were installed in the backyard before the construction, so all of the electricity used during the making of the house was solar powered, Ty said.

Other features include: clerestory windows, which aid in maximizing solar energy gain, LED, or light emitting diode, lighting, super insulated walls and a rainwater collection system.

Ty said he hopes the Equinox House influences more people to consider energy-efficient living because it is important for the future of the planet.

“Whether it’s your generation or the next one or the next one, when the well runs dry, it happens quick,” he said.

Economic reasons are another advantage, he said, because not only are the energy bills cheaper, but there is a better job market in renewable energies than there is in oil.

“As we switch from buying oil or coal to making solar panels, there are going to be many more jobs,” Ty said.

Ty said he decided to place the house in a residential area to demonstrate that a solar-powered home is still a normal home and that it is possible to live efficiently and comfortably at the same time.

Debra said she is excited to move into her new home.

Though the initial cost to construct an energy-efficient house can be more expensive than the typical house, it is the more wallet-friendly choice in the long run, she said.

“It’s energy efficient because it’s 100 percent powered by solar energy. It’s clean, and it benefits the future generations,” Debra said.

Nancy Delanty, Urbana resident, said she thinks people should care about clean energy because it is better for the planet.

She said the Equinox House could inspire her to adopt more environmentally friendly technologies into her home. However, Delanty added that she does not think she is ready to transition into a fully solar-powered home anytime soon, as it can be a costly endeavor.