Sun Day

As a kid, I swore I would never be one of those adults who keeps the house freezing and makes everyone put on another layer. Really, there are only so many sweaters you can bundle up in before you're mummified on the couch. But with Xcel getting a rate hike more often than Tara Reid takes a bender and gas prices surging higher than a pre-dryout Kate Moss, I've begrudgingly accepted my fate as a bundler. In fact, I'm in a competition with myself to see how long I can go before turning on the heat.

Thankfully, the Colorado Renewable Energy Society is making snow cones out of icicles. "Three-dollar-a-gallon gas is one of the best things to happen to us," says Phil von Hake. "Last year after Katrina, there was huge interest in what we do."

And what they do is promote saving energy and protecting the environment through better building design. Today the group is showing off sixteen homes during the Denver Tour of Solar and Green Built Homes, which is part of the American Solar Energy Society's National Solar Tour. "The theme of the tour is 'Real homes for real people,'" von Hake says. "There are a couple of pretty fancy houses up on Lookout Mountain, but there's also a solar condo off of Colfax in Lakewood that uses solar thermal panels that use the light and heat of the sun to heat water for the entire complex. And with these homes, you might not see solar panels on the roof, but they may use passive solar or be green-built homes that use good practices, such as proper windows and appliances and lightbulbs."

The tour of ideas starts at 9 a.m. at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Visitor Center, 15013 Denver West Parkway in Golden, where anyone looking for ways to save on energy bills can buy a tour book and map ($20 per car) and then take off on the self-guided adventure. Or sign up for a guided bus tour, $35, and let someone else do the driving.

For more information or to reserve a seat on the bus, call 303-806-5317.

And don't forget to bring a sweater.
Sat., Oct. 7, 9 a.m.

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Amy Haimerl