Ways To Cut Energy Costs

Wednesday - November 19, 2008
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By Sean Mullen
President for Suntech Hawaii

With energy bills skyrocketing, now is an excellent time to consider a renewable energy system for your house. By going green, homeowners actually will save money in the long run, as well as do their part to minimize the impact made on our environment. We at Suntech Hawaii are committed to providing Hawaii residents with options for clean, renewable energy sources.

Did you know that Hawaii has the highest energy costs in the nation? Most people on Oahu have seen their energy bills spike dramatically in the past year, due to the tumultuous energy market. Homeowners can better control these costs by cutting back energy consumption through energy efficient light bulbs and appliances, and by being more mindful of their energy use, as well as looking to new solar energy systems for their homes.

While most people think the latter is expensive, over the long run you will end up saving money thanks to generous state and federal tax incentives aimed at helping Americans become less dependent on oil. The three most popular solar systems are:


Photovoltaic (PV) system:

These roof-mounted panel systems turn sunlight into electricity to power the house. They last for more than 40 years, and the average household on Oahu could lower their electric bill to $18 per month with a PV system.

Although many think this renewable energy system is out of reach due to the initial cost of about $15,000 to $20,000, it’s not. Most homeowners can use the equity in their homes to purchase a PV system, paying it off over the length of their mortgage. This payment structure, coupled with the decrease in energy bills, ultimately lowers the homeowners’ overall monthly bills.

As the state’s largest locally owned solar integrator, Suntech Hawaii has installed more residential PV systems than anyone else in Hawaii. We identify the right solution for each customer based on power demand, site characteristics, cost and financing needs. Meanwhile, our team of experts is deeply familiar with the wide range of federal and state incentives available for renewable energy projects. We’ve used this knowledge to help scores of Hawaii homeowners access the maximum tax credits available. Once we have a chance to meet with homeowners to determine their needs and financing, we can usually install a PV system in two to three days after receiving the panels.

Sean Mullen and the Suntech Hawaii team

Solar water heater: The most economic and familiar of all solar systems, the solar water heater heats up water used in the home via rooftop panels. With hot water accounting for up to 40 percent of a home’s electricity costs, this can make quite an impact in your monthly energy bill. A solar water heater runs between $5,000 and $6,000 to purchase, but with state and federal tax incentives and the $1,000 rebate from HECO for Oahu residents, the actual cost to a homeowner is less than $2,000. Coupled with the energy savings, the system will pay for itself within two to three years.

Solar attic fan: A small, rooftop solar panel powers a fan that sucks stagnant hot air out from under the roof, cooling down the roof and subsequently the home, all while enhancing air flow. This lowers your overall cooling bills, as the house doesn’t get as hot, it extends the life of your roof, and the process combats mold. These fans cost about $1,000, but with the state and federal tax credits will end up only costing about $350 to the typical homeowner. By helping the home use less energy, the fan should pay for itself in less than a year.

Suntech Hawaii is an authorized HECO solar water heater installer, and can install a solar water heater as well as an attic fan in one day’s time.

In addition to making financial sense, solar systems truly help the environment. Solar power is clean and in Hawaii we have an abundant amount of free sunlight. The typical homeowner using a combination of PV system and solar water heater will virtually eliminate their electric bill, while also avoid burning 200 barrels of oil, and 6.7 tons of carbon dioxide, and saving 2.6 acres of forest in a year’s time.

Right now we’re testing solar powered air conditioners, and are reviewing wind power options for our commercial clients. We are constantly looking for new ways to help end our dependence on oil for electricity.

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