Energy Conservation in Central Illinois

A list of active efforts to move away from the Carbon Based energy economy, first posted August 2007. It has been a year since I put anything up here but I hope to do better. I plan trips to Decatur and Champaign later this year.

I talked to Bob the owner of the property at 25903 Levee St. on the Mason Menard County line. There are 36 sharp 208’s in the solar array. The wind turbine is a Bergey 10kw machine. He ties it all together with a combine panel with the utility company with a meter that turns both ways. In other words he is using the grid for storage. His payback is 2% a month and I believe that works out to around 4 years. After that it is all free. WAY TO GO Bob! If everyone did that the world would be a better place.

While I was trying to find a route between Rochester and Riverton for The Poker Scoot we will hold on April 26th as a fund raiser, I discovered a house about 3 miles north of Rochester that has a large solar scoop. It covers most of the south side of what looks like a 3 bedroom ranch style one story house. It is probably a combo system – solar heat and solar water preheat. I did not have time to stop and ask. Technically it is at 985 Gabriel Rd.

I can not tell you how many times I went by this house and never noticed the system. The house is at 2124 N 8th St. in Springfield. It is a 1/2 block south of Sangamon AV and clearly visible. The system consists of 4 parrabolic panels that track the sun. That is pretty amazing. Clearly the system has been installed for awhile. I knocked on the door and left a card. It is definitely a water heating system. But for it’s size they are probably heating the house too. More later if they call me.

The State Journal Register ran a story about the popularity of geothermal systems in homes in Sangamon County. With the Feds giving out a $1,500 tax credit, Weidner Refrigeration says out of the 80 they have install in the last year 60 of them have been retrofits.
Anyway, the house featured is owned by:
Ron and Amy Mahilich
7014 Fulton RD
New Berlin, IL 62670

With 4,000 square feet, their highest electrical bill so far has been $249. This is amazing!

According to the SJ-R
Duston and Linda Norbut Suits
13,500 Maxwell RD
Loami Il
have a $18,000 70 ft. high wind turbine supplied by Midstate Renewable Energy Services. Though I have not gone yet…apparently you can get more info at The system generates 2.4 kilowatts.

This ran in the September 25 2009 SJR
Apparently a guy in Taylorville has started building “super energy efficient home and operated with green coponents” by M.A. Heinemann Homes by one Mark Heinemann. It is similar to the Harv Kopel, Annete Chinouge home here in Springfield, listed here on Apple Orchard Rd.
It is at:
3912 Lincoln Trail
You can see it at or call Steve hayden at 726-3217
Features include: insolated concrete foundation, solar overhangs, rammed earth components, super insulation, recycled flooring, in floor heating, super efficient appliances including HVAC, compact flourescent lighting, detached garage and easily closed off rooms.

The Smith House, in Urbana, Illinois, “has a simple, compact shape that conserves energy,” says its architect, Katrin Klingenberg.
Citation: Passive House Institute US

City: Williamsville
State: IL
Zipcode: 62693
Site Type: Home
Contact Person: John & Natalie Albers
Technologies at Site:

Solar Electric

Size of Solar Electric: 2 kW
Size of Geothermal: 4 ton
We have a 2,000 square foot ranch style home over a full basement and use both PV and geothermal to power our home. We were surprised by how easy the panels were to install and overall the utility company was easy to work with. We have also installed a new Vantrax GT 3.3 Inverter.

This and the previous listing are from the illinois solar manufacturing association’s website and the walking tour they sponsored… lino is/Chapman/details
City (site): Urbana
State: IL
Zipcode: 61802
Contact Person: Patrick & Kimberly Chapman
Technologies at Site: Solar Electric
Size of Solar Electric: 2.87 kw
Our system was installed bya a NABCEP certified installer – this means they have all the qualifications to do it right. The system consists of 14 solar modules and one power inverter, all manufactured by SunPower Corporation. The system DC rating is 2.87 kilowatts and is expandable by about another 1.6 kilowatts without changing the inverter (you’d have to add 8 more SunPower solar modules). For more information, please reference, albeit a little dated:

There is a house in Southern View near Springfield that has a Horizontal Windturbine on the roof of their garage.
It is at:
2904 S. 4rth ST
Southernview, Il 62703
It is there temporarily and will be moved but the owner is part of the manufacturing effort so you can stop and ask him about getting one for your house. or see next listing.

And a related post to the one above…there is also one of those wind generators in chatham. A group:
K2H Wind Technology
2707 W. Washington
Suite C
Springfield, IL 62702
The turbine is located at the manufacturer’s location which is at:
Fehring Iron Works
10128 Gilreath Road
Chatham, IL 62629-8625
(217) 483-6727
Go take a look.

The new Bike Store and Enos Park neighbor has a solar panel on his roof. It is called the Springfield Bike Dr.
owner: Robert Labonte
1037 N. 5th St
Springfield, il 62707

There is a 10 Kilowatt solar panel system in Southern View That was installed by the Springfield company Solar Universe that can be reached at The owner of the company is Greg Harwood and the house is owned by his brother
Mark Harmond
2904 S. 4th St.
Springfield, IL

IMEA Office Project

This Project is the first LEED certified building in Springfield. It is super insulated and all of the windows are low E windows. When complete the new structure will have a total of 33,000 square feet of space under roof, with about 24,000 of that finished. Heating and cooling will be by a 100% geothermal system.

Steve Jones in Morrisonville (south of Taylorville) installed 5.4 kilowats of solar panels on his garage. He recieve a rebate on the system from DECO of $10,000 and a federal tax credit of $2,000 to install the system. It utilizes net metering as its storage system.

Ralph Dorr, a pharmacist who lives west of Curran Rd. here in Springfield install a 45 ft. wind generator at his home. The turbine generate 1.8 kilowats of power and the manufaturer says that it should pay for itself in 3 or 4 years.

Gerald Jones, professor at the University of Illinois in Champaign, installed 4.5 kilowatts worth of solar panels at his home. He uses net metering as his storage system and Ameren currently pays him 7 cents a kilowatt for his electricity. Under a new net metering law that will rise to 10 cents a kilowatt.

An anonymous couple that lives on Williams Boulevard in Springfield installed the first green roof in Springfield. The roof consists of a standard roof overlaid with dirt and plans that acts as natural insulation, and greatly reduces the carbon impact of the energy they do use.

Harvey Koplo and Annette Chinuge recently built a new home on Spaulding Orchard Road that included many energy conservation techniques, like super insulation, light tunnels, high efficiency windows and solar water preheat on their garage. There will be an article on their house in an upcoming edition of Community Energy Systems newsletter.

Capital Area Career Center, the former Votech School, has tracking solar photovoltaics in its front yard on Toronto RD.

BP’s latest gas station on Stevenson DR has an awning made of “see through” photovoltaics that powers its gasoline pumps.

And sad to say, the Agriculture Building at the Stair Fair Grounds has/had the first commercial solar water preheat system on its roof but it only worked for about 2 years and then it leaked. It does not work now and was never repaired. Point being test test test.

The following examples are from the Sierra Club Solar Tour:

Single Family Residence Mike Kernagis, (Builder: Ecological Construction Laboratory)
1007 Fairview Ave. Urbana, IL 61801

Single Family Residence John & Natalie Albers
532 Linden Lane Williamsville, IL 62693

Single Family Residence Phil Geil
2060 County Rd 125 E Mahomet, IL 61853

Single Family Residence Rena & Drew Jones
2002 Barnes St Urbana, IL 61802

Single Family Residence David & Miriam Kennell
1524 CR 550 N Eureka, IL 61530

Single Family Residence Katrin Klingenberg
206 1/2 Brady Lane Urbana, IL 61802

Single Family Residence Tripp Fezler
1620 Baldwin Jacksonville, IL 62650

Sullivan Residence: Riverton, Illinois
Steve and Sheila Sullivan
6424 Barlow Rd. Riverton, IL

This 47′ diameter dome features 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. It includes an atticwhich is currently not completed. The home offers 1800 square feet with an additional 500 square feet in the attic.

Miller and Kroenlein Residence: Green Valley, Illinois
Robin Miller and Kati Kroenlein
16900 Goeken Road, Green Valley, Illinois 61534

Description: 48′ hemisphere with 48′ tubular extension 25′ diameter, 4′ over center. Extension holds 2 car garage, shop, utility, and most of dining room space. Radiant floor is solar heated: 6 thermal panels over the garage heat water stored in 350 gallon tank. 2-story front arch is both front porch and balcony accessible from master suite. Designed by owner.

Bob Swarr built a rammed earth house near the junction of Salt Crick Road and Hubly blacktop. It is totally south faced glass that shines onto a thermal wall across the entire house. The north, east, west and top of the house is rammed earth. In the winter they control the heat by how open the curtains are and during the summer they control cooling by how high the grass grows.

Next door or more properly on the corner is a hog enclosure that he owned as well. It has a huge 2 story solar wall facing south across the entire front of the building. Under further review, the above hog enclosure is not being used and in fact has no windows in the window frames, so there has been some salvage going on. This not uncommon because new owners do not understand the technology, don’t want to use the technology, or the situation has become obsolete. In this case the 20 year old solar panels are in good shape, it’s the small independent hog farmer, like my great grandparents, that are obsolete.

Both sites are in Mernard County 2 miles south of the Hubly Bridge. Unfortunately Bob no longer lives there so no more information is available so far. May have to drop in and ask.

To show you how much difference a year makes…the hog enclosure is still being torn down but they have erected 12 photovoltaic panels and a personal wind turbine. WOW.

An exciting update, 2014: the Farm Property that I have reported on that is in Menard County about a mile from Hubbly Bridge has made some dramatic improvements. They have errected what looks like a Slip Stream 3.5 Wind Turbine and what looks like 16 solar photovoltaic panels. I definitely need to stop in and talk.

There are 3 houses in Mason City Proper that use solar.

Ruth Ship, 624 W. Elm Street, Mason City. This house has 3 solar water preheat panels on the roof. This house was built by Joe Swaar.

304 N. Morgan Street, Mason City. This house has a south facing solar green house that supplies heat to the house. The solar was added to the existing house by John and Gay Maxim. They have sold the house and the owner is unknown.

1504 East Chestnut Street. This house appears to have 2 solar “scoops” on its roof that are likely for air heating. Located in a part of Mason City commonly called the new addition. The owner is unknown.

MY MAILMAN, stopped me the other day and said, “heh there is this cool place over in Oreana. Have you seen it”? Oreana is a little tiny town about 5 miles or 10 miles past Decatur on I-72, so of course the answer was NO. Apparently 3 sisters on a farm over there bought a wind generator and some solar electric panels to become essentially energy independent. Thats all I know and NO I am not driving over there to find out.

In Mason City there is a house with solar scoops, probably for space heating but it could be water preheat as well: The house sits at 320 N. Tonica Street across from the Lutheran church. The owner is unknown.

Believe it or not category for this one is phoned in by CES Board member Paula Dahm:

There is a one panel solar heat house in Burtonview of all places! Owner unknown – 2207 700th ave , Burtonview, Il

Bernie Carver lives at 4133 Old Route 36, in Springfield, well outside Springfield. It has a real sweet setup. He has pretty much the entire south face of his house acting as a solar retaining wall. He funnels that heat into the basement for storage. He has a thermostat on the main floor attached to a circulation fan that move the heat around in the house. In addition, he has three 30 gallon water tanks also behind glass and that hot water circulates for showers and other hot water purposes. He says it gets hot enough for dishwashing on some days.

Robert Maddox lives at 1652 Camp Butler Rd, which may be a Riverton address. Its hard to tell, but you can’t miss the house. It has a huge solar scoop feature on its roof. It is made of double hung windows and the Maddox’s report if it gets to hot they just open the windows. The entire ground floor on the south and the west sides is a solarium and a plant room. Again, during the summer they just open the windows and the draft from the solar scoop keeps the house cool. They have a pool house with the same design.

I did not knock on the door at 9614 Peoria Rd., but it looks like it has a south facing two story glazed solar scoop. The rest of the one story house wraps around it and has few half windows sprinkled around the outside. It is probably a passive heating application. For those unfamiliar with the area, this house is on a chunk of Peoria Rd about 10 miles North of Springfield in between Anderson Rd. (which runs from Bud’s Corner and Sherman – east and west) and what I call Williamsville Rd. (which runs between the Athens corner and Williamsville – east and west).

Homes at 6937 Werner Road near Curran

The “Earth home” styled one is right on Werner Road while the one with both types of solar panels is north of the road about a 1/8 mile. Dan came to Cate’s 50th Birtday party and reported that the house has both solar photovoltaics on the roof of the porch. 5 panels at an estimated 1.2 kw per panel and the roof of the house is a large solar water heater.

Back to top…