In a groundbreaking law, Hawaii has become the first state to mandate that all new homes be outfitted with solar water heaters.
Starting in 2010, all new single-family homes in the state will have to include solar water heaters, or they will not be granted permits. A few reasonable exceptions will be allowed, including for homes under forest canopies.
Today, Hawaii already has 80,000 solar hot water heaters in operation. Residents can already get a handy 35% state income tax credit, in addition to taking advantage of the federal credit of 30% (up to $2,000) -- but hurry, the federal incentive is set to expire by the end of this year. To sweeten the deal even further, several of Hawaii's leading utilities are offering additional incentives worth $1,000 on a new system.
Hawaii's progressive stance is exciting and encouraging. Solar water heaters, also known as solar thermal systems, typically cost an affordable $1,500 to $3,500, and pay for themselves in four to eight years. In contrast to using the sun's free rays, the average family's electric water heater uses 6,400 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, releasing eight tons of CO2. There are different types of solar systems, including passive ones and those with pumps.
Not surprisingly, as ENN reports, Hawaii must import about 90% of its energy sources (mostly from fossil fuels), which is part of the reason why the cost of living is famously high. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense for the gloriously sunny island chain to take advantage of its clean natural resources, and cut down on shipping and pollution. Hawaii is known for its unique and spectacular beauty, and helping preserve the ecosystem's fragile balance should be a top priority for the state's leadership.
This new law seems to be a positive step in that direction.
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