A solar furnace has been installed in a Cedar Rapids home for low-income families as part of a demonstration project initiated by Theodore Westhues, Solar Heat Outreach Specialist. Westhues, an AmeriCorps single placement, is based at the Conservation Corps Iowa office in Ames. The Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP) is hosting the demonstration site, which provides temporary shelter for families in need. Funded by the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service, the project is intended to show the viability of supplementing heating assistance in low-income homes with renewable energy. The free-standing furnace will provide about 20 percent of the home’s heating costs, saving about $500 per year.
Participants in the two-day installation and training, November 25 and 26, included representatives from HACAP, Community Action of Eastern Iowa, Green Iowa AmeriCorps, Rural Renewable Energy Alliance and Conservation Corps. In March 2014, Conservation Corps Iowa will sponsor a Solar Day at the home to show the system in operation and provide information on renewable energy technologies.