State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Hawaii’ s homes go Green with solar hot water heaters

The grass may be greener in Hawaii, but now so are its houses.

Solar powered hot water heaters are now replacing electric heaters that burn fossil fuels, and in the process release harmful carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.  Hawaiian Electric Company is heavily encouraging all home owners to convert to eco-friendly solar water heaters by offering lucrative rebates.  While this switch promotes energy efficiency in the home, it also reduces statewide electricity usage that until now relied over 80% on fossil fuels.  In fact, Hawaii is hoping to invert that number by the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which aims to produce up to 70 percent of electricity from wind, solar and other types of eco-friendly resources.

Solar Panels. Image from solarinsure
Solar panels. Image from solarinsure

Creating homes that rely on solar hot water heaters is a major step towards achieving such an impressive goal.  With utility, local, and federal governments all offering rebates, more than 50,000 solar hot water heaters have been installed already.  These solar heaters and the rebates that are part of the package have reduced home electricity bills, therefore offsetting the initial cost of installing them.  Solar Direct, a company invested in providing green technology, installs the warm weather ProgressivTube for $1,700 – $2,600 in Hawaii.  Solar Direct installs these hot water heaters according to the local climate (warm, moderate, cold) along with a variety of other technology such as lighting, pool and spa heaters, wind powered systems etc.  Reasonable prices and convenient home installations are making this company one of the coolest clean energy companies around today.

Solar powered hot water heater. Image from ecoscraps
Solar powered hot water heater. Image from ecoscraps

Hawaii is taking drastic measures to become one of the greenestates in the U.S.  The state public utilities commission is considering time-of-day pricing (TOD), under which higher rates will be charged for electricity during peak morning and evening hours compared to off-peak hours.  This step will seriously promote energy consciousness and green technology such as the already popular solar hot water heaters.  Hawaii’s capital Honolulu have mandated that every new publicly owned building is constructed according to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, which is estimated to cut building energy consumption by 50 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent.

With all these programs underway, the switch to solar hot water heaters is still one of the most popular and successful projects.  The positive public response has led the state to announce that all new homes built 2010 onwards must use solar powered hot water heaters.  This will harness Hawaii’s most natural energy source right into thousands of homes, and hopefully buildings too.

Hawaii is quickly becoming a major trendsetter in the clean energy sphere, showing that working on a localized level can have a global impact.

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Jim Wood
Jim Wood
14 years ago

Hey, I just read the blog and great! I have been installing solar hot water heaters for years and most people are shocked when they hear the economics, and how fast the payback is.

Our local utilities in North Carolina even offer a $1000.00 incentive on top of the federal (30%) and State (35%) Tax credits.

Keep up the good work and keep up all the good work to all my other fellow Solar Installers

Jennifer Vettel
Jennifer Vettel
14 years ago

This is a great step in the right direction! Hopefully soon we will see sunny areas such as Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California follow suit, making more efficient use of our energy and cutting down electric bills for consumers who desperately need it in this economy. While this technology will not necessarily be usable everywhere (such as areas that have large amount of rain and clouds), every little bit helps!

14 years ago

Yeah , even i hope more and more countries switch over to non-conventional energy sources like solar energy. Even geo thermal heaters are very eco friendly, as they use nothing but heat generated from the earth.

James Walsh
James Walsh
14 years ago

Since Hawaii is so near and dear to my heart (although it’s really expensive to live there), I’m glad that solar energy and in particular solar hot water is making some major inroads there. I hope to move back soon – aloha!

James Walsh

Gene @ Diy Solar Panels
14 years ago

The possibilities are huge for residential solar energy. With the rising cost of energy solar power will only become more attractive in the future.Solar power is important to the evolution of the society. It is important for countries, such as the United States, to move away from the dependency on foreign oil and to use energy resources that are readily available. No one can deny the sun isn’t a steady resource

13 years ago

Solar systems

Face to solar panels or the west with an inclination of 30 degrees is still 80% of the maximum performance when facing south. The most important factor is to avoid the shadows cast on the solar cells. It will have a significant adverse impact, if trees, overhead lines power poles, or gable roof dormers to the modules to light.
The financial benefits of solar systems are primarily dependent on the chosen technology and its components. Some of the many issues affecting the viability of a solar system. Our experienced consultants are happy to see that you are.

Each system connected to solar panels consists of three parts:
A first solar array on the roof of many are electrically interconnected solar cells.
The second equipment power grid, which converts the DC output of the solar generator to power and standard line voltage monitoring and exercise functions of maximizing revenues.
Third power supply for electricity in the public system where the operator may be liable (to the existing network connections are used for ratings up to 30 kilowatts will be sold without problems).
Solar system – the amount of electricity they produce?
It depends on the crest of the installed capacity and hence the surface available for the solar panel. Modules with crystalline solar cells produce about 1 kilowatt of peak power for an area of 80-10 square meters. the level of financial investment is another important criterion. not more than the initial capital costs and securing external funding problem more or less even finance solar systems by feed-in tariffs and the system itself is used as collateral for investments.
External factors such as humidity and wind damage, lightning, hail or vandalism extremes can have a negative effect on the solar system. All solar systems must be insured, because it is impossible, will reduce the damage will be created .. This service will be offered by specialist insurance companies. Vandalism, theft, operator errors and compensation for loss of yield, if the system is operational, can also be assured. This may be particularly attractive for large systems are funded by third parties.

solar cells

tankless water heater

south carolina solar hot water systems
13 years ago

solar hot water systems are cost effective just because they are powered by natural energy can make the better utilization of work resources .It’s a great option for those who want to decrease there power bills. Solar hot water heaters are becoming popular these days. In the states like California and Hawaii cash incentives have been given to the homeowners who wants to switch over to solar hot water systems.

Buy Water Heater
Buy Water Heater
12 years ago

I agree with you about the sound of running water being essential but the wildlife it entices can be a problem. Some years ago I put in a small, preformed pond that morphed into a larger hand dug pond with small waterfall that morphed into a pond that flows into a stream and under a deck with a much larger waterfall. I had to replace the smaller stacked rock waterfall with boulders to keep the raccoons from rearranging them every single night. Some of these changes have come about because I just love the sound and sight of the water but many (most) of them have come about to battle the destructive critters – raccoons mostly and herons. I swear my raccoons are going for a degree in pond architecture as they regularly dig up plants in and near the pond, tear apart the liner and rearrange rocks. I might find them more amusing if they didn’t regularly leave their dropping directly under the swing set, and if I hadn’t had to pay for surgery when they took a dislike to the meekest of my cats…

Max @ diy solar panels
10 years ago

Solar water heater is a fantastic thing! My first one paid for itself in one year because it reduced the monthly electricity cost by $50. One of disadvantages is that you need sunlight for the heaters to work efficiently and if that doesn’t happen you need some sort of booster. I would suggest before purchasing a solar hot water heater maybe get a technician out to evaluate your property, size of roof and see if it is feasible.