Take a tour of local, eco-friendly homes


by Joe Flanagan


Posted on September 30, 2011 at 4:55 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 30 at 6:02 PM

NORFOLK -- One look at Scott and Ruth McElroy's house and it is obvious that the couple believes in renewable energy. 

While giving a 13News crew a tour, Ruth showed off the green roof they installed outside their upstairs study.

"Well it used to be just a straight asphalt roof, and when they put it in, they put in a five-layer composite underneath the roof.  And this roof could last for 50 or 60 years.  And in 50 or 60 years those plant roots are going to want to go everywhere," said Ruth McElroy.

On a second floor deck, you can look down on a water filter and a huge cistern that stored rainwater runoff.  What began as a small unit holding about 100 gallons kept growing and growing.

"Pretty soon we were at 2,000 gallon and he said 'most of the price is in the shipping.  It won't cost that much more to do a 3,000 gallon.'  So now we have a 3,000 gallon rainwater cistern.  [It] runs all our hoses and our downstairs toilet and waters this roof," added McElroy. 

The solar panels on their rooftop can actually cover the cost of their yearly power bill, with a little help from earning energy credits.

"Yeah the solar photovoltaic makes electricity for the house.  We make about a third of our electricity directly from the sun, and then we actually pay the rest of our power bill by selling the renewable energy credits which makes us about twice as much as the electricity itself." 

The McElroys say taking advantage of renewable energy is easier than we think.  They advise starting small.  Their house is part of a Solar Energy Home Tour happening this weekend. 

It takes place Saturday on the Peninsula and Sunday on the Southside. Click here for more information.