RecycleWorks Press Releases

P R E S S    R E L E A S E

August 27, 2004

San Mateo County RecycleWorks
Contact: Malia Langworthy
650-599-1468 or

Tour participants can visit seven San Mateo County homes incorporating solar technology and sustainable materials and design

San Mateo County RecycleWorks in partnership with the Northern California Solar Energy Association will sponsor its annual Solar and Green Home Tour on Saturday, October 2, 10am to 4pm. This year seven homes throughout San Mateo County will open their doors to demonstrate the benefits of using renewable energy sources to power their homes and heat their water. Green building features will also be highlighted and incorporated into the tour.

"Renewable energy allows us to create clean electricity right here in our community," says San Mateo County Supervisor Jerry Hill. "This makes us less dependent on the utility grid, and makes it less likely that we'll have to build more expensive and polluting power plants."

The tour features a wide range of solar technology including photovoltaic systems, solar hot water heating systems, radiant floor heating and pool heating. Three homes on the tour also boast green building features, including healthy and environmentally friendly materials; energy-efficient designs and appliances; and recycled building products. The homes represent different local solar providers and are in geographically distinct areas of the county including Burlingame, San Mateo, Belmont, San Carlos, Woodside, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto. The tour begins at Lundardi's Market in Belmont, a grocery chain that has implemented solar and renewable energy systems at several stores.

Tour participants will visit homes of their choosing and can talk with homeowners, solar providers and architects about why and how they integrated solar and green building designs into their homes. Everyone receives a tour guide and background materials on solar energy and green building. This tour is part of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) National Solar Tour, which is expected to draw as many as 30,000 visitors nationwide. San Mateo County is one of 11 tours being conducted in Northern California on October 2.

For more information about the San Mateo County Solar and Green Home Tour, please visit or call 1-888-442-2666.

Solar Fact Sheet

  • Annual average per household energy consumption in San Mateo County is 5,723 kWh according to the Sustainable San Mateo County 2004 Indicators Report. In some cities such as Woodside, Atherton and Hillsborough, the figures are nearly three times higher than the county average.

  • Most residential photovoltaic systems are tied to the power grid, so you are guaranteed a steady stream of electricity, even on cloudy days and nights. Power that is generated by solar panels and not used flows out into the power grid, turning your electric meter backwards. Your electricity bill is determined by the net reading on your meter.

  • The California Energy Commission (CEC) offers rebates of between 30-50% for solar installations. Check their website for current rebate and tax credit amounts.

  • The cost of solar electric cells has dropped by 70% since 1980 as a direct result of increased customer demand and increased production.

  • Cost depends on size, type of system and other factors. Average cost (after rebates and tax credits) is $5,000-$8,000 per kilowatt. A 2-kilowatt (kW) system may cost from $10,000-$16,000 installed, after rebates and tax credits. A 2 kW system can provide 3,650 kWh of energy over one year.

  • Solar cells operate reliably for 20-25 years with virtually no maintenance. Annual cleaning of the panels is recommended for optimal performance. Most residential solar systems pay for themselves in electricity savings in 10-12 years.

  • The County of San Mateo installed the half-acre of solar panels on the new County Forensic Lab that was built in 2002.

  • The city of San Francisco passed a $100 million bond initiative in 2001 to finance renewable energy projects and energy efficiency measures in city and county-owned buildings. The first project, a 675-kilowatt solar electric system on Moscone Center, is underway.

# # #

Please bookmark for all your reporting needs on waste reduction in San Mateo County. You'll find information on cities, haulers, programs, diversion numbers as well as statistics for California and San Mateo County.