In Clifton Park, going green means saving green

Paul and Joanne Coons' energy bill is about $200 per year.

The Coons participated in an open house sponsored by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association on Saturday, Oct. 6, opening their doors to visitors who toured the environmentally friendly aspects of their Rexford home.

The most visible features of their green" home are the large solar panels in the back yard. The four panels generate approximately 70 percent of the energy the family uses.

To calculate energy costs, National Grid uses a net meter system, which calculates how much energy the Coons generate for the grid, which is then deducted from the energy they use from the grid.

The family also has solar vacuum tubes on top of their barn, which heat their water to a constant 120 degrees. If the tubes don't have enough sunlight, a bio-diesel generator heats the water. A propane heater is a second backup.

The Coons collect kitchen oil from five local Chinese restaurants every Sunday and combine it with other materials to make the bio-diesel.

"I'm voting with my dollar," Joanne Coons said. "If I buy a panel, more panels will be made. I'm a science teacher, and I believe the data. If I'm guilty of more emissions, that's all I can do is control what I do, so I'm doing what I can do."

Joanne Coons teaches earth and environmental science at Shenendehowa High School, and her husband works for the state Office of Mental Health.

They have a gas-electric hybrid car, which gets about 50 miles per gallon, and a diesel car, which gets about 45 miles per gallon. The diesel car runs on the bio-diesel the family creates, except in the winter.

"These are stepping stones until we really come upon the next big solution," Joanne Coons said. "I don't know what that is."

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