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Sun shines on Iowa’s Solar Day

Iowa corps members celebrated Solar Day in front of the home installation in Cedar Rapids.

Iowa corps members celebrated Solar Day in front of the home installation in Cedar Rapids.

Conservation Corps’ Solar Day, held March 21, showcased a solar furnace installed in a transitional home for low-income families in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The demonstration project, funded by the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service, is intended to show how renewable energy systems can be incorporated into heating assistance programs. To start off the event, Conservation Corps Solar Outreach Special Jackie Boat explained how the relatively low-cost solar furnace, which is designed and manufactured by the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, operates as a stand-alone supplemental heating system. Following her training presentation at the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program office, she led a tour to show “how the system is set up in a home and … to observe its effect on the temperature inside the house.”

On the sunny winter day, the home’s solar collector heated air to almost 130 degrees that was blown into the house through ceiling ducts and a fan, so the home’s gas furnace didn’t kick in.  The event “helped to demystify the inner workings of the technology so that it could be approached as a very possible reality for those with a sunny south facing wall.”

 About 32 attended the training and demonstration event, including representatives from Iowa Habitat for Humanity chapters, Community Action of Eastern Iowa, Green Iowa AmeriCorps and Conservation Corps Iowa members. “There was also media coverage by the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Channel 9 news team, which has generated a great deal of interest within the Cedar Rapids community,” Boat said. “We hope to use this momentum to move forward with further outreach, trainings and installations.”

Learn more about the event and Jackie’s work.