Garnavillo Energy Breakfast and LED Swap Review

Green Iowa Americorp worker, Drew Peeler recaps the GIA team’s impact in Clayton County.

The following story covering our June Clean Energy Breakfast is compliments of the Clayton County Register.

By Pam Reinig
Clayton County Register Editor

The initial success of a recent solar installation has two Northeast Iowa business owners thinking about expanding their energy-efficiency efforts.
Toby and Tracy Schroeder, owners of Garnavillo Auto, had nearly 100 solar panels installed on the roof of their business, a move that’s reduced their energy bills by nearly 70 percent. The savings and an estimated payback of less than five years has them seriously considering solar for businesses they own in Elkader and Edgewood as well as their Garber home.
“We’re so glad we did this,” Tracy told those who attended a meeting sponsored by the Clayton County Energy District. “My only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner!”
Solar contractor Roger Zearly was in charge of the project. He explained why he opted for roof mounts over ground mounts for the couple’s shop.

Nearly 100 solar panels were recently installed at Garnavillo Auto by FreeWind/Roger Zearly

Nearly 100 solar panels were recently installed at Garnavillo Auto by FreeWind/Roger Zearly

“They have a nice chunk of land that we could’ve used,” he said, “but going this route keeps that land available for future expansion.” Zearly added that he chose American-made panels, which are a bit more costly but a better product overall.

Also at the energy meeting, Drew Peeler with Green Iowa AmeriCorps discussed the 70-plus home energy assessments his group has conducted throughout Clayton County. The three-part program incudes direct installation of energy-efficient light bulbs, showerheads, and programmable thermostats; combustion safety tests to detect possible carbon monoxide leaks from fireplaces, furnaces, water heaters, stoves, and other appliances; and blower door tests that determine where a structure might be losing heat or air conditioning.
Peeler and his team members have been trained to understand the tests and data. In addition, two members are building inspector certified. The assessments are not costly; some people (seniors, veterans, and low-to-moderate income households) pay nothing at all.
“If you pay yourself, the cost can range from $20 to $120,” Peeler said, “but the average home is saving $100 a year, so the payback is very quick.”
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Following the energy presentations, members of the Clayton County Energy District stayed in Garnavillo where they set up a light bulb swap at the Speede Shop. About 40 energy-efficient bulbs were given out.