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Sun power keeps home energized


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POSTED: Monday, September 28, 2009

As the sun beats down on her St. Louis Heights home, Susan Chandler walks to her laundry room in the morning and taps on a DC-AC inverter to check how much carbon dioxide she has kept out of the atmosphere. Her daily average: 14.2 pounds.

Then she walks to the meter box on the side of her house and watches the black line rotate backward.

“;I love to see the meter spinning backwards, which means I'm reducing my electricity,”; she says. “;Rather than going to HECO, it's saving the world.”;

Chandler had earlier installed solar water heating and CFL light bulbs in her five-bedroom residence, but decided to make a bigger leap toward the “;green”; movement by adding six photovoltaic panels from RevoluSun to reduce her dependence on the grid.

“;I'm making my own electricity,”; said Chandler. “;For me, it's pretty exciting.”;

A professor at the University of Hawaii Public Policy Center, Chandler opened her house to the community yesterday to showcase RevoluSun's solar module, which generated 86 kilowatt hours of power and offset 142 pounds of atmospheric carbon dioxide in just 10 days.

Chandler expects her electricity bill to be around $25 with the addition of the solar panels, compared to the $125 bill she's paid in the past.

RevoluSun, a new company, hopes to educate the community and expand awareness of affordable solar systems to help Hawaii become more sustainable and lower electric bills.

“;Even though solar power has been around for decades, many homeowners don't know about it,”; said RevoluSun co-owner Eric Carlson.

“;The beauty of it is you get 65 percent of this system returned to you for tax credits,”; which means Chandler's roughly $13,000 six-panel solar system will cost just $4,500 after state and federal tax credits, Carlson said. He added that the investment will pay itself off in six to seven years.

RevoluSun branched off from SunTech last year and started offering solar modules for residents in July. Marcus Jones, co-owner of RevoluSun, said the company will offer more open houses and feature a local residence with the most powerful solar module on the planet in October.

“;The name of the company is in reference to revolution,”; said Jones. “;I think of Hawaii as the Silicon Valley of renewable energy. Hawaii really has the opportunity to take the lead nationwide in this technology.”;

Anke Roberts and her husband dropped by the open house with a serious interest in installing a solar module on their Hawaii Kai home.

“;We've been talking about it ever since we moved to Hawaii,”; she said. “;It just seems logical. There's so much sunlight here.”;

The Robertses learned about the tax, environmental and cost benefits from RevoluSun representatives.

“;I didn't even know that you can give electricity back to HECO. That's what I love the most,”; Roberts said. “;It would just feel good to turn on the air conditioner and know that we're using sun power.”;