Energy Raisers are a neighbor-helping-neighbor concept of installing solar energy on homes based on the tradition of Amish barn-raising. Through this process a number of things are accomplished:
- The homeowner is able to “general contract” their own solar installation reducing the cost of the installation and learning the many details involved in the installation process.
- The community comes together for a goal oriented workday that accomplishes something exciting and tangible before the end of the day.
- Skills are built. People learn skills that they never thought they’d have a chance to learn.
- Neighbors have the opportunity to meet and get to know one another - building community connections while we all strive to conserve energy and prepare for life in a lower energy world.
- Local tradespeople have an avenue to learn hands-on about installing solar energy systems.
- Energy use is reduced! As a result of the work from neighbors helping neighbors direct energy use is reduced immediately.
The concept of the Energy Raiser is not a new one. The Amish have been helping each other build barns for hundreds of years. The concept of many hands make light work has been used for centuries. But there is one thing that the Energy Raiser needs before it can be undertaken and that is the concept of “paying it forward”. People interested in hosting their own Energy Raiser need to help on two to three current raisers so the favor will be returned to them in the future. This way the Energy Raisers always have a talented and enthusiastic work force.
The Energy Raiser concept started innocently enough with two of our members saying to each other “If I help you put up solar, will you help me”? That led to our first Energy Raiser in 2005 where 27 people descended on a home to install a solar water heating system in one day.
The first day was absolute chaos, a complete experiment, but the job got done and by the end of the day the solar collector was warming the tank’s water.
Today Energy Raisers are planned well in advance and have specific roles for participants to play.
Tank Team – Connects the pipe from the chase to the water storage tank and installs the five solar loop components.
Electrical Team – Installs temperature controller and the thermostat wire and sensors from collector to tank and from tank to controller.
Chase Team – Runs and secures flex or copper pipe from collector to tank.
Collector Team – Mounts and secures the collector rack on wall/ground/roof, connects pipes from the chase to the manifold, installs evacuated tubes
Tube Team - Unpackages, inspects and prepares tubes to hand to collector team.With the Apricus Collector you will need to goop, shake and pass!
Pipe Insulation Team – Insulates pipes using closed cell (Arm-a-flex) pipe wrap on solar loop after it’s been pressurized and it’s been declared there are no leaks.
Clean Up Team – Pack up and clean up. Giving special attention to getting tools, clothing and unused parts back to their rightful owner.
Observers and Extra Hands – Those people participating for the first time observe the day's tasks carefully and quietly and seek out information team leaders with general questions vs. working volunteers.
Inside and Outside Supervisors – In addition to team leaders….it is helpful to assign the two people (and they can be the homeowners) that are the most experienced with the details of the installation -- to be your inside and outside overall leaders. Team leaders and volunteers should seek out these supervisors for all questions concerning the details of the installation. (All major decisions should always be run by the homeowner.)
Information Team – Runs the Noontime Information Session for the Public and is available to the Energy Raiser volunteers to answer general questions and explore what it would take to install a solar water heating system on their own home.
Note to Energy Raiser Volunteers: Tradespeople and Handypersons are encouraged to bring tools and equipment such as a cordless drill, step ladder and pipe cutter. Others should bring when feasible a tool belt with work gloves, black sharpie, tape measurer, rag, safety glasses and utility knife. Safety harnesses are required for Collector Team.
How to Get Involved in PAREI’s Energy Raisers:
- Attend a Public Solar Information Session held at Energy Raisers or at other specified times.
- Sign up to receive the PAREI Membership Update (please indicate you would like to receive the update) to stay informed on dates for Energy Raisers and Solar Information Sessions. You don’t have to be a member to attend.
- Become a member of PAREI and RSVP to volunteer at an Energy Raiser once announced. Energy Raiser participants need to be PAREI members to particœipate as volunteers.
- After participating at an Energy Raiser, decide whether you want to host an Energy Raiser at your own home. As a membership benefit request a solar site visit (no additional charge). A PAREI staff will visit your home and help you determine if your home is a good site for a solar water heating or a solar electric system via a DIY project, Energy Raiser or utilizing PAREI’s Professional Crew. This visit produces a shading analysis report which indicates the solar gain for your site and will help you determine if investing in solar is the right choice for you.