Lexington Minuteman

March 6, 2008

While Massachusetts may not spring to mind when discussing finalists for the title of “The Sunshine State”, the potential for harnessing the sun’s energy for the average household’s hot water needs here in the Northeast is actually quite promising. Your chance to find out more about this opportunity to save money and the planet at the same time by lowering your household’s reliance on conventional fossil fuels is now at hand.

The third offering in GWAC’s popular Home Energy Efficiency Series to be held at 7 p.m. the evening of March 10 at the Cary Library will be exploring the topics of solar hot water and wind power installations for residential applications. The featured speakers will be Mark Durrenburger, owner of New England Breeze an installer of home solar and wind energy systems, and a representative from Keyspan, who will explain rebate programs available through Keyspan for home installations.

Solar hot water systems are most commonly installed to supplement a home’s existing domestic hot water system. Your domestic hot water system is what supplies your home with hot water for bathing, laundry, dish washing, etc. The solar system preheats the water being supplied to the home’s conventionally fueled heating tank. The hotter the water from the solar system, the lower the amount of fossil fuels that will be required to provide the home’s hot water needs. During prolonged stretches of cloudy weather, the conventionally fueled hot water system keeps the domestic hot water supply at the desired temperature.

During the summer months here in Massachusetts, a properly installed and sized solar hot water system can be expected to provide close to 100% of a typical household’s hot water needs. The percentage will of course be less in the winter months but overall, providing for between 60% and 70% of a household’s annual domestic hot water needs can be expected from one of these systems.

Another very attractive application is to use a solar hot water system to heat a swimming pool. Solar hot water heating systems for pools can often pay for themselves in 3-4 years when compared to conventionally fueled systems. And for pools that are not currently heated, installing a solar heating system can significantly expand the seasonal use of your pool.

Tapping wind power through the installation of a residential-sized wind turbine will also be discussed as part of Durrenberger’s presentation. Based on his experience, the average home installation runs in the neighborhood of $11-15,000 and may be eligible for up to $5,000 in rebates and tax incentives. Based on adequate wind speed, a household paying $2500 per year in electrical bills may be able to expect a payback in about nine years from such a system.

The installation of any such systems requires an initial investment that is often more than many individuals are able or willing to pay in one lump sum. Exploring mid to longer term financing options to pay for such systems is one alternative to consider. By spreading out the costs over time you can use the monthly savings in energy costs combined with rebates and tax incentives to help pay for the installation.

So if you want to explore ways to both save money in the face of ever increasing energy costs and reduce the impacts on New England’s environment from reliance on carbon emission producing fossil fuels, mark the date of March 10 on your calendar today.

Brought to you by Lexington Global Warming Action Coalition. Visit our website at www.lexgwac.org.