An Ahwatukee Foothills home will be part of the Arizona Solar Home Tour this weekend, showcasing how solar can be used throughout the state.

Resident Randy Dunton said he decided to look into solar when he lost his job at a computer business. He started with a system on the roof that meets 25 percent of his family’s needs. Later, he built two separate systems; one to power his pool pump, which saves $70 per month, and one to power his green house. The final system, still under construction, will meet an additional 50 percent of the home’s energy needs.

As Dunton learned about solar he was able to develop a curriculum, which he used to teach classes at local community colleges. He was hired by Arizona State University to teach about solar in countries like Aruba that depend heavily on oil for energy.

Now, Dunton designs solar power plants for commercial businesses and still helps with smaller residential systems on the side. He said the Arizona Solar Home Tour seemed like a great opportunity to share his knowledge.

“I feel that the American public needs to know more about solar,” he said. “It’s still in its infancy. We only have less than 2 percent of energy needs met in solar. We need to be further along… In Arizona, we have coal and we’re starting to realize we need to change our ways. The reason I’ve been getting into solar is to educate people on the fact that we need to change. People don’t like to change. The tour gives me a great opportunity to open my home and educate people.”

Dunton said he has learned in the past few years how easily solar systems save money and help the environment. He has plans to purchase an electric car soon and then expand his system to power his vehicle. For now, the Dunton family is working on reducing their energy needs.

“It’s not a good idea to build a large power plant on your roof,” he said. “It’s a better idea to adjust your needs first and then build the system to meet whatever is left. That project is ongoing.”

The solar tour is a free, self-guided tour. The Dunton residence will be open on Saturday, Oct. 26 and Sunday, Oct. 27. Tours start at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4 p.m.

For complete tour information, visit http://www.azsolarcenter.org/events-calendar/icalrepeat.detail/2013/10/26/418/-/2013-solar-tour-living-with-the-sun-tour-phoenix-metro.html#TourSites.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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