In such a sunny state, solar makes sense
A bill to require solar water heaters on all new homes is moving closer to legislative approval.
Hawaii is poised to become the first state to require all new single-family homes be built with solar water heaters as a standard feature, a proposition that makes perfect sense for islands with a wealth of sunshine and a heavy dependence on oil imports.
The measure comes as the price of oil hovers around $100 a barrel, pushing electricity bills higher with increased fuel surcharges utility customers pay. The bill would still allow owners of existing homes to receive tax credits and rebates for solar water heating retrofits.
Though the bill was opposed by developers, the building industry and even some solar-water heating companies, revisions appear to have satisfied at least some of their concerns and other minor issues aren't insurmountable.
More important, the legislation sets Hawaii on a path toward larger scales of energy and cost savings as well as reaping environmental benefits. It should be approved.
Developers had argued that the requirement would add to the cost of a home, but installing a system initially would be less expensive than adding one later. Moreover, since heating water accounts for about 30 to 35 percent of a household's electricity bill, residents of new homes would see lower power bills immediately, with savings paying for a system within a few years.
The Navy has seen the wisdom of solar, building all of its new residential complexes with such water heaters. Israel has long had a mandate and since last year, Spain has had similar requirements.
Solar water heating systems are established, reliable technology using clean, renewable and abundant energy. They should be as much a part of home building standards as flush toilets.
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