Solar water heaters required
in new Hawaii homes
May 2, 2008 - Mark Niesse - The Associated
All new homes in Hawaii will be required to
have solar water heaters installed starting
in 2010 under a law approved Thursday by the
Hawaii becomes the first state requiring the
energy-saving systems in homes.
Solar water heaters typically cost home buyers
about $5,000 extra on their mortgage, but island
residents will save thousands of dollars over
the years on their electricity bills, supporters
"We owe to our children and grandchildren the
promise of a clean and renewable energy future,"
said Rep. Hermina Morita, chairwoman of the
House Energy Committee. "A solar water heater
mandate in new home construction ... will result
in greater public benefits to everyone at large."
Solar water heaters reduce residents' electricity
costs between 30 percent and 35 percent - up
to $150 per month for a family of four on Kauai,
said Morita, D-Hanalei-Kapaa. With those kind
of savings, their initial expense is usually
paid off in three to four-and-a-half years.
Opponents of the measure said it would unfairly
drive up costs to home buyers.
Lawmakers described a government requirement
for solar water heaters as a way to protect
the environment, reduce Hawaii's heavy reliance
on foreign energy sources and save money.
"There are significant and quantifiable environmental
benefits, energy security benefits and economic
development benefits," said Sen. Gary Hooser,
D-Kauai-Niihau. "This measure lowers the net
cost of home ownership and will cost nothing
in terms of the state budget to implement."
The bill passed unanimously in the House and
23-2 in the Senate. It now goes to Gov. Linda
Lingle's desk for her review.
The bill also ends current state solar tax
credits beginning in 2010 worth about $2,500
in savings on purchases of solar water heaters.
Some legislators said they weren't comfortable
with a law that takes away residents' ability
to decide for themselves what kind of water
heater they want to buy.
"Our country was founded on the principles
of freedom and liberty," said Rep. Colleen Meyer,
R-Laie-Kahaluu. "More and more, these dictates
are coming down to the people saying, 'You have
no choice anymore. You have to do what is politically