Towler Travels - GOING GREEN - SOLAR POWER AT SPRING LAKE
FEBRUARY 2008 - Everyone is aware of environmental dangers and how we are contributing to the problem. Here is a way that travelers can enjoy themselves without adding to environmental degradation. If you want an unique, pleasant, and environmentally sound experience, visit the 1880 inn we found that uses nothing but solar powered electricity. Andy and Barbara Seaman are the progressive thinking and environmentally concerned owners of a 16 room inn in Spring Lake New Jersey. Worried about global warming and the legacy they are leaving their children, the Seamans took advantage of New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program and installed a series of roof top solar panels that not only supplies all of their electricity needs but feeds unused power back into the state grid.
The process wasn’t cheap, but the return on investment, the cost savings and the benefits to the environment are not just significant, they are fabulous. The equipment and installation cost around $75,000 and the state provided a grant for more than half the cost. But the savings didn’t end there. There was a federal tax credit, credits for the sale of excess electricity and cash back from the company where they purchased the system. The Seamans expect to break even in a few years and to make money after that.
However, the effect on the environment is even better. The firm that put in the system, Renewable Energy Concepts, estimates that over a 30 year period the Seaman’s solar system will save 619 barrels of oil, be the equivalent of 541,344 miles of automobile travel not used, reduce acid rain emissions by more than a ton, reduce green house gases by 216 tons and be the equivalent of planting more than 1000 trees.
So far, The Spring Lake Inn is the only completely solar powered inn in the area but others are sure to follow. Anyone concerned about the environment can’t help but be impressed. This 127 year old inn is a delight in its own right but the fact that it has become a leader in solar power makes it even more special. The inn is spotless, attractive, has an interesting history and is located in an unique village. Each of the 16 rooms is unique and the breakfast included with your room is varied and delicious. Spring Lake deserves a visit in its own right. It is a charming town on the Jersey shore that has gone out of its way to preserve its historical ambiance. The streets are tree lined; the houses unique, massive and architecturally diverse and it is quiet but with lots of things to do. The City Fathers have ensured that there isn’t a McDonalds or a Starbucks anywhere, but there are delightful cafes, tea shops, and award winning restaurants in unexpected places. Then there is the boardwalk, the wide expanse of sandy beach, but without the Coney Island atmosphere. This is a place where the garbage trucks are white and spotless. What is more, they glide to a stop in the middle of the road (it is wide enough to pass on both sides of the truck) and the men pick up plastic buckets and go to the back of each property and return with the garbage. You never see a refuse bin or a garbage bag in front of a house. That’s class! If you tire of this peaceful oasis, you can get all the action you want at nearby towns of a short drive will take you to the casinos, boardwalk and honkey tonk at Atlantic City a few miles away.
Anyone can set up their own solar power system. From a purely financial point of view, the most appealing aspect of solar is locking in your cost of power over the long term. In a future energy crisis you will be immune from the cost increases if you have a solar system. This is great news for those who anticipate or are already living on a fixed income. With a solar electricity system, even as electricity costs increase, home and business owners will not have to worry about increased utility bills. In addition studies that indicate that every dollar saved on your utility bill with a solar electric system will increase your overall home value by twenty dollars. So $1,500 in annual electric bill savings from solar power will equate to $30,000 in additional resell value. A solar electric system helps set a home apart from the others in the neighborhood. A home with a fixed electric bill from solar is cheaper to live in, and very appealing to potential buyers.
We had a good time in Spring Lake and felt good staying there. What you can do with solar power was a great eye opener and we are looking for other places to visit that are as environmentally advanced.
Spring Lake is one hour from New York City or Philadelphia. There are several Bed and Breakfast guest houses, but we were glad we discovered the Spring lake Inn. Their website is www.springlakeinn.com.