Tag Archives: Habitat for Humanity of Omaha

Bright Future: With basic installation and financing information, these homeowners went solar

By Cheril Lee, The Reader pic1Thinking about installing solar panels on your home? There are some key questions you need to ask yourself first including: What is the current cost of your electric bill? How much electricity are you using on a daily basis? How much solar energy do you need to generate to offset that usage?

The number and placement of solar panels on your home will depend on the size of your house, the kind of surface area you have to work with as well as things like how many trees you have in your neighborhood.

Continue reading here.

About the above photo: Habitat for Humanity of Omaha and Nebraskans for Solar raised funds to install a solar hot water system on this Habitat for Humanity home and three others. The systems, which typically have a lifespan of 25 to 30 years, save the homeowners about $1,000 a year. Photo Credit: Blake Johnson, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha

Eric's houseNebraskans for Solar President, Eric Williams, one of the homeowners featured in Cheril Lee’s article, offers tours of his 3-kilowatt residential solar project, which generates clean, renewable energy for his energy-efficient house (90% of usage in the first year) and his electric car. His home is located in Omaha’s beautiful, historic Dundee neighborhood.

Solar Powering Habitat for Humanity Houses

By Blake Johnsonpic1

About the photograph: Nebraskans for Solar & Habitat for Humanity of Omaha installed this solar hot water system (equivalent to a 3-kW photovoltaic system or 12 solar panels) on a South Omaha Habitat for Humanity home in August 2014, one of four demonstration houses in our Solar for Low-Income Families Program. We developed our Solar Trainee & Mentorship Program from it. 

Habitat for Humanity of Omaha and Nebraskans for Solar partnered in an effort to bring the first solar installations to low income housing in the area. The two organizations realized a potential to join forces and advocate for cleaner energy systems in residential housing and ultimately save Habitat homeowners money.

Habitat for Humanity Omaha offers no interest mortgage loans to qualifying families looking to purchase their fully renovated or new homes.

The families selected for the program then partner with Habitat Omaha, agreeing to complete up to 350 hours of “Sweat Equity,” working side by side with Habitat Omaha staff and volunteers to help build their own as well as their neighbors’ homes. The homes are then purchased for full market assessed value and the neighborhood is transformed.

The homes themselves are held to a high standard of quality construction and building materials. They are built to very stringent Energy Star 3.0 standards, using only high efficiency appliances, windows and premium insulation practices so that the homes operate as economically as possible. It made sense to go even further and consider solar a viable option to improve the efficiency of the homes.

Solar hot water systems were installed on the first two homes selected, based on solar exposure of the lots and the timing in Habitat Omaha’s construction schedule. The neighboring homes are located in one of the organization’s target neighborhoods of north Omaha, and now sit completed amongst an ever-improving area of the city.

The system is composed of south-facing solar collectors on the roof and an eighty gallon insulated storage tank plumbed ahead of the homes traditional electric water heater. The system will supply the families with 70% of their needed hot water supply and save them an estimated $500 annually. The money saved can be used to buy food, clothing, and educational opportunities for their children, items that sometimes are a secondary thought in extremely tight budgets.

Habitat for Humanity of Omaha and Nebraskans for Solar are currently working on two additional solar hot water systems, one recently completed in south Omaha, and one in the Benson neighborhood, set for installation in late fall. The partnership so far has proven a successful one and has brought to light the possibilities of solar power in low-income neighborhoods.

Blake Johnson is Construction Warranty Supervisor for Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, serving for four years with the nonprofit organization. He has over 10 years experience in home and landscape construction and construction management. His passions include working to build quality affordable housing to help end the cycle of poverty, and green, sustainable initiatives to protect our planet. He serves on the Board of Directors of Nebraskans for Solar.

Thank you to everyone who supported our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign!

Nebraskans for Solar and Habitat for Humanity of Omaha would like to thank everyone who contributed to our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, “Solar Power for Habitat for Humanity Families.”

Over 100 donors supported the campaign, including:

Bank of the West $2,500
Bold Nebraska $1,000
An anonymous contribution from a California couple $500
43 contributions from 2014 Earth Day events $725
67 donations on our Indiegogo campaign site $10, 885

100% of these funds will be used to solar power two Habitat for Humanity houses, one in the Benson neighborhood and another one in South Omaha. Nebraskans for Solar and Habitat for Humanity of Omaha are continuing to raise funds to solar power three additional houses in 2014.

These families will be able to reduce their monthly energy costs by harnessing power from the sun for the next 20 to 25 years!

The money they save can be spent on food, healthcare, education, and other needs, benefiting their families and communities for a very long time.

Each solar hot water system is compact but powerful, generating about the same amount of energy per day as a 3-kilowatt solar electric system, or twelve 250-watt solar panels.

As we stated throughout our Indiegogo campaign, these gifts will pay our contributors back, greening our community and raising awareness about solar energy and how it benefits people and the environment.

As soon as all five houses are built or rehabilitated and the solar systems installed, each of our donors will receive an invitation to a solar tour and presentation.

We also wish to thank our supporting organizations for their help in spreading the word about our campaign to people who want more renewable energy in our communities:

Bold Nebraska, Community Power Network, Green Bellevue, Green Omaha Coalition, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Nebraska 350.Org, Nebraska Farmers Union, Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light, Nebraska Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Sustainability Leadership Institute, and Transition U.S.

Helen Deffenbacher, Fundraising/Grants Director, Nebraskans for Solar hdeffenbacher@cox.net

Kathy Katt, Senior Director of Development and Marketing, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha kkatt@habitatomaha.org

 

Inviting All Green Energy Supporters to an Earth Day Challenge!

To all Green Energy Supporters:

Nebraskans for Solar and Habitat for Humanity of Omaha have set a goal to increase the number of funders on our Indiegogo campaign to 50 or more by Earth Day Omaha this Saturday, April 19th: www.tinyurl.com/Omahasolar

Please make a contribution of $10 or more and help us reach our goal! And please share our campaign information with your families, friends, co-workers and neighbors.

Your gift will pay you back – greening our community and raising awareness about solar energy and how it benefits people and the environment.

And if you plan to come to Elmwood Park on Saturday to celebrate Earth Day, please stop by Nebraskans for Solar’s table to see the world’s smallest solar-powered racecar–and a very large group of solar-powered grasshoppers!

You can also view our campaign video, thanks to the Dundee Community Garden for lending us their solar power kit! We hope to see you there!

Please check our Updates on our Indiegogo page for news about the first two Habitat for Humanity houses that will be solar powered with campaign funds and which neighborhoods they’re in, and media and organizations that are helping us spread the word about our campaign: www.tinyurl.com/Omahasolar

Thank you for all you do!

Nebraskans for Solar & Habitat for Humanity of Omaha

Solar Powering Local Habitat for Humanity Homes Through Crowdfunding

Nebraskans for Solar and Habitat for Humanity of Omaha have launched a campaign on the popular crowdfunding site, Indiegogo: www.tinyurl.com/Omahasolar

Our goal is to raise $32,500 to install solar hot water systems on five new or rehabilitated houses.

These Habitat families will then have the means to reduce their monthly energy costs by harnessing power from the sun for the next 20 to 25 years. The money they save can be spent on food, healthcare, education, and other needs, benefiting their families and communities for a very long time. These houses will serve to raise awareness about solar technology and how it benefits people and the environment.

A growing number of communities across the country are solar powering Habitat for Humanity and other low-income houses, ensuring that low-income families aren’t left out of the “solar revolution.” That’s our organizations’ major goal, too.

All Indiegogo funds raised will be paid directly to Habitat for Humanity of Omaha for these five demonstration solar-powered low-income houses. Donations are tax deductible.

A number of local and national organizations are helping Nebraskans for Solar and Habitat for Humanity of Omaha spread the word about our Indiegogo campaign to people who support solar energy in our communities. We wish to thank the following organizations: Community Power Network, Green Bellevue, Green Omaha Coalition, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Nebraska 350.Org, Nebraska Farmers Union, Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light, Nebraska Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Sustainability Leadership Institute, and Transition U.S.

Promoting Solar Energy in Nebraska

Nebraska has tremendous potential for solar energy production, as high as ninth in the nation according to one source.  Currently, however, solar accounts for less than 1/2 of 1% of electricity production in our state.

Nebraskans for Solar (NFS), a public interest nonprofit, incorporated in 2012, has as one of its missions to develop a statewide Solar Powered Low-Income Housing Program in partnership with other nonprofits that build or rehabilitate low-income housing.  As low-income families pay a higher percentage of their income on domestic energy needs than everyone else, NFS seeks to provide them with the means to reduce their utility bills by being able to generate their own clean, renewable energy, energy that will never increase in price.  The money these families save can be spent on food, education, and other needs.

Initially, NFS is focusing its efforts in North and South Omaha.  These are regions in our state where a major percentage of low-income families are concentrated.  North Omaha, in particular, has one of the highest levels of poverty among minorities in the entire nation.

NFS and one of its community partners, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, raised funds to install solar hot water systems on two energy-efficient Habitat houses in North Omaha in November of 2013.  These two homes are currently the only two solar-powered Habitat homes in Nebraska.  However, NFS and Habitat for Humanity of Omaha are seeking to raise funds to install solar hot water systems on 5 more Habitat homes and will launch a crowd funding campaign on the website Indiegogo on April 8, 2014.  These homes as well as the two previous installations will provide models for a statewide Solar-Powered, Low-Income Housing Program.