Solar-Paneled Barn Cuts Energy Costs at New Canaan Home

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – The inside of the barn on Glenn Starkman's property in New Canaan is large enough to house nine cars. But the barn's most important feature is the solar panels on the outside that help him save hundreds of dollars on his home's energy bills.

When Starkman and his wife Susie renovated their Oenoke Ridge home about four years ago, he looked into ways to save on energy costs. He talked with New Ridge Builders founder Chip Dunn and business partner Kevin Simmons, who suggested building a barn with 98 photovoltaic solar panels near the house on the family’s 4-acre parcel.

“They said it would be interesting to put a solar panel grid on the property, but we didn’t want to make it look ugly,” Starkman said.

The solar paneling can generate up to 18 kilowatts, Dunn says. The residence doesn’t run solely on solar power, but Starkman said his monthly electric bills in the summer are $600 to $700. Previously, those bills were $1,500 to $1,800. Power bills the rest of the year have been as low as $90 a month, Starkman added. Although the system cost about $90,000 to build, Starkman said state tax credits cut the price in half.

“Few realize that the other side is covered with state-of-the-art solar panels. And rather than storing harvested hay, it harvests energy from the sun,” said Dunn, a New Canaan native who runs the Darien-based business. 

Any extra energy generated goes back to the power grid. “It’s savings, but we felt we were doing something good for the environment and trying to reduce our footprint,” Starkman said.

The Starkman project is his showcase, Dunn said. But he’s hoping to build an energy efficient farmhouse in New Canaan or Darien. “I think people are starting to realize that generating their own electricity makes them more independent, and that’s a good thing in the long run,” he said.

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