The state of Hawaii has become the first in North America to require solar water heaters in new homes. The bill, signed into law by Republican Governor Linda Lingle this week, prohibits issuing building permits for single-family homes that do not have solar water heaters.
All new homes will be required to have the energy-saving systems installed starting in 2010. Exceptions will be made for houses in heavily forested areas. But the move to force solar heating is a big step for a state that relies heavily on imported fossil fuels for 90% of its supply.
Conventional water heaters are typically the largest electricity consumer in the average household, gobbling up nearly 40% of consumption. The measure was first introduced five years ago when a barrel of oil cost just $40. Since then, the price has more than tripled. Solar water heaters can be complex systems or simple cheap models.
Not surprisingly, builders and developers were against the bill, saying it would add too much to the cost of new home constructions. But surprisingly, another opponent was the Hawaii Solar Energy Association. Last April, in a story in the Star Bulletin, Ron Richmond, with the association, said the new legislation would cost homebuyers about $2,100 more to have the solar water heaters installed. The average solar water heater, according to the article, currently costs about $5,250, before rebates.
Make a Solar Water Heater for Under $5
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