Behind every great installation, there's a good story -- meet Tim and J’Fleur. The Lohmans have turned their home into a working model of sustainability by installing a solar electric (PV) system, solar hot water, and a rainwater harvesting cistern at their home located in Tucson’s Milagro co-housing community.
Preserving the environment has always been important to the Lohmans. They moved to Southern Arizona from Illinois in 1984. After experiencing over 300 days of sunshine, they figured, “We have all of this sun; this must be the most sensible way to produce electricity. Especially when we think about the alternative, coal, which is just awful for us,“ explained J’Fleur. “Why wouldn’t every house here have solar hot water and PV, after all the sun is producing sunshine everyday?”
Tim explained their process in going solar, “We felt that we had to live what we were professing. We didn’t need to be convinced of the benefits of solar. It was just a matter of finding a good company to do the installation. So, I decided to visit TFS during their annual Open House party, and there was a really neat feeling generated with the people that work there. You can tell there’s something unique taking place, and the values of the workplace are wonderful. It’s the type of company I would like to work for, if I were in the position. It’s so unusual to see a company that really is mission driven."
“We installed a 2.07kW solar electric (PV) system. Because of the layout of our roof, we could only install a system that would meet half of our energy needs. However, our PV system works as a motivator for us. We try to find as many different ways as possible to keep our electricity consumption down. We purchased a Kill-A-Watt meter that lets us see how much electricity different appliances use, so we can turn these things off or unplug them when not in use,” said Tim.
“For years, we’ve been conscious of both our electricity and water usage. It’s important to educate others in our community about conserving and how easy it can be,” Tim explained. Tim and J’Fleur take efforts to conserve water in addition to electricity by only using 50 gallons of water per day. This is quite a notable effort, considering that the average Tucsonan uses 120 gallons of water per day.
“Another motivator for me to conserve water was my pond, “ said Tim, “I love ponds, but they can be viewed as wasteful, because the water evaporates. I knew that I could make it work even with a tight water budget. I cut back on my water usage in other areas. So my pond is another motivator for me, to see how I can conserve in other areas. I don’t want to be deprived from what I really enjoy. It’s all about balance. We don’t want to be extreme in our lifestyle; we want to show others that you can live lightly and still maintain a very fulfilling life.“
J’Fleur offered advice to others considering going solar, “It’s a wonderful opportunity to provide electricity for yourself and others, because all of the extra electricity we produce goes back into the system and then to our neighbors. As stewards of the earth, I think that’s our obligation. We receive so much from the earth; solar is something that we can do to give back.