Solar Water Heaters Now Mandatory In Hawaii

Solar Water Heater on Rooftop

Hawaii has become the first state to require solar water heaters in new homes. The bill was signed into law by Governor Linda Lingle, a Republican. It requires the energy-saving systems in homes starting in 2010. It prohibits issuing building permits for single-family homes that do not have solar water heaters. Hawaii relies on imported fossil fuels more than any other state, with about 90 percent of its energy sources coming from foreign countries, according to state data.

The new law prohibits issuing building permits for single-family homes that do not have solar water heaters. Some exceptions will be allowed, such as forested areas where there are low amounts of sunshine.

State Sen. Gary Hooser, vice chairman of the Energy and Environment Committee, first introduced the measure five years ago when he said a barrel of oil cost just $40. Since then, the cost of oil has more than tripled.

“It’s abundantly clear that we need to take some serious action to protect Hawaii because we’re so dependent on oil,” Hooser said. “I’m very pleased the governor is recognizing the importance of this bill and the huge public benefits that come out of it.”


Comments

  1. Bryan says

    I’m not sure how I feel about making something like this mandatory. I certainly think that there is probably a positive gain for solar hot water heaters (especially in a tropical area like hawaii). However, it most certainly adds to the cost of a new construction. As with all mandates, there will be people that this hurts. Poor use of the free market.

  2. says

    On the other hand, I think we’re all happy to have fire and safety codes. If we’re serious about mitigating climate change, at some point we just need to do what we know works. I appreciate your concerns, however……this would be a good use for Energy Efficient Mortgages….they’ve been around for years but lenders haven’t had much use for them.

  3. Bryan says

    Yeah, I totally agree with the energy efficient mortgage. When I look to build a home in the next few years (I’m 24) I will totally look to reduce my utility costs in whatever way I can. The economics on solar hot water heaters make sense, but so do other alternatives. When the government makes legislation like this we lose our freedom of choice, and it really limits the emergence of other (and possibly better) alternatives. For example, what if a homeowner wants to use a mix of wind energy with an on-demand hot-water heater? Or geothermal?

  4. Bryan says

    Yes, but when you have the government passing unfunded mandates you are forcing one specific technology as opposed to letting a free market find the best solution. For example, how can the hawaii legislature be counted on to weigh all the data between solar hot water heaters and a wind/on-demand hot water heater? Or maybe a geothermal soluation for a state rich in volcanic activity? I love the idea of solar hot water, but I do not think the end (alternative sustainable energy) justifies the means (loss of a freedom of choice).

  5. Philip says

    Come on, with the energy savings and the fact that the house will probably be paid off in 360 monthly payments, I’m pretty sure the new owners come out on top. Can’t get a better deal than solar thermal at this time.

  6. jesse says

    I grew up in Hawaii and am planning on moving back and solar water is a total no-brainer. Electricity and gas both cost 2-3 times the national average, so that payback time is much quicker. The real problem is that not many people own their homes, since land is so expensive. Since landlords aren’t paying the electricity bills they don’t care, and tenants don’t want to invest in a home they don’t own. Likewise, if you are building a home to sell. It is so much easier, cheaper to put these in when you build the home, rather than trying to retrofit. So this is really beneficial to everyone, except maybe developers and people who own rental properties, but I think they have the extra money.

  7. says

    I think that there is probably a positive gain for solar hot water heaters. However, it most certainly adds to the cost of a new construction. Thank you for giving this useful information.

  8. Richard says

    Yes, fire codes, safety codes, etc. sometimes annoying, but mandatory in the so-called “free market” economy where big business will do whatever is necessary to increase shareholder and corporate profit.
    If it were truly (somehow) a “free market”, that would be lovely, but big oil gives the lie to all of it. If we don’t go sustainably into the future, we’re screwed. I applaud the Republican Governor of Hawaii for taking this step.
    Won’t be long before the price will be more than competitive with “heating as usual”.

  9. Brian says

    I grew up in Hawaii and remember when my father had our solar water heater installed 25 years ago. I moved to Arizona for awhile where it is basically sunny 364 days out of the year, yet I saw very few solar devices installed. I recently moved back to Hawaii and immediatly had a Solar water heater installed. It saves me approximatly 25%-30% on my electric bill and with Hawaii’s electricity rates the most expensive in the nation (more the twice the cost per kwh of the second most expensive State) my investment will pay for itself in 18 months. It was a no brainer back when my father did it and is a no brainer now.

  10. Dave says

    I agree Brian. I disagree Bryan. You might be adding to the cost of the home but the savings realized in lower electric bills makes up the difference within a couple of years. Frankly, over the medium and long run, solar drastically reduces the cost of living in that home. As for unfunded mandates, wrong again, sir. As usual, dogmatic ignores practical effect. The federal government provides an income-tax credit worth 30% of the installed price of these units. I’m not sure what Hawaii does but Florida, for example, offers a $500 rebate from a dedicated fund. Some utilities offer rebates, as well. California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Florida and every other state that includes climatic zones where freezing temps are rare or non-existent should follow Hawaii’s example in this regard. Doing so would further reduce the cost of solar heaters to the consumer and do more to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

  11. Tom says

    The new Hawaii law is bull sh.. it was passed to help the gas co install gas – fired tankless water heaters ! and install at least one other gas appliance ! it kills the 35% state tax credit ! bill has huge loopholes ! see article by michael wilmeth Solar water heating required in new homes in Hawaii
    http://www.buildinggren.com the bill is “grossly flawed ” who got paid off to pass it ?

  12. F. MARIO PALMA says

    HELLO, AND THIS IS GREAT NEWS, EVEN FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT DONT REALIZE THE SAVINGS THAT CAN BE HAD, WHEN YOU PLACE THE SUN AT YOUR SERVICE TO PRE HEAT THE WATER, AND THEN HAVE THE WATER IN A INSULATED TANK, AND THEN WHEN YOU NEED THE HOT WATER IT GOES FROM THE INSULATED TANK TO THE ON DEMAND WATER HEATER,( THE WORK THE ON DEMAND HAS TO DO IS MINIMAL) AND THE SAVINGS OVER THE LIFE OF THE USERS IS ASTRONOMICAL, AND IS GREAT FOR THE WORLD, MOST FOLKS DONT REALIZE THAT CONVENTIONAL WATER HEATERS ARE ON ALL OF THE TIME, IMAGINE LEAVING YOUR CAR ON ALL OF THE TIME- SO THAT WHEN YOU NEED IT ITS READY TO GO, SO WAY TO GO HAWAII
    CHAIO AND ALOHA. MARIO PALMA.

  13. says

    Solar Water Heaters for domestic applications are great and the Authorities in Hawaii should be congratulated on their forward thinking. However, there is also another water heating technology that has been developed to a level now, that is very similar to the efficiency of a Solar Water Heater – and that is an “Air to Water Heat Pump”. These units can still “collect” free energy from the air during the night time, in heavily forrested areas, or during rainy or cloudy periods. The Heat Pumps are also fantastic and very cost effective for Commercial applications, such as Motels, Hotwls, Large restaurants, Fitness Centres, and any application where large quantities of hot water is required over long periods of each 24 hour day. I spent 15 years in the renewable energy industry involved in International Sales, and I believe that Air to Water Heat Pumps would be ideal in the climatic conditions experienced in Hawaii. Another big advantage with the Heat Pump products is that installation is so much simpler and therefore not as expensive when compared to a domestic solar water heater, and there is no need for any equipment to be installed on the roof. Everything can be installed at ground level.

  14. David Powell says

    Aloha.I agree with the state in making solar hot water systems manditory on all new homes,but this is going to shut down some of the little guys who cannot afford it in their budget.I think making this code applicable to homes over,say,1000 sq.ft.would be more realistic and consideration for using a tankless water heating system should also have some merit.I am all for increasing energy efficiency,but some allowances should be made.

  15. says

    Solar energy water heater is one of renewable energy resource. these are environmentally friendly and can now be installed on your roof to blend with the architecture of your house easily. The system has maximum efficiency & takes minimum installation time & can reduce a home’s energy consumption by as much as 50%.

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