Heating Up Water The Green Way

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - October 07, 2009
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Bernard Kea, president of SunEnergy Hawaii, installs a solar water heating system

“I believe in getting into hot water - it helps keep you clean.” -G.K. Chesterton

Bernard Kea keeps clean and green with a solar water heating system he offers in Hawaii, Guam and Singapore through his company SunEnergy Hawaii.

“It’s very simple,” says Kea, president of SunEnergy Hawaii. “The collector holds 50 gallons of water on the roof. That water soaks up the thermal properties of the sun. In the panel is a copper tubing system. So when you turn on hot water, it extracts heat from the water, and it pre-heats the water going into the conventional water heater.”

Kea likens it to a swamp (evaporative) cooler.

“My nephew plays football for Saint Louis,” he explains. “They have a big fishing cooler. Inside the fishing cooler is copper tubing. Before practice they fill up the cooler with ice and they put water in it. Then they hook the fishing cooler to a water hose. When the players drink from the spigot, the tap water circulates through the copper tubing, and it extracts the coldness from the ice water. When it comes out the other end, it’s cold water. It’s a simple concept, only in reverse.”


Kea says the system is maintenance-free once it is set up and customers save $30 to $45 a month. A homeowner can install it on his/her own if desired, or the company can install it for the homeowner.

“If I had to install it I probably could, and I’m not a plumber by any means,” says Kea, who previously worked as a director of operations and a controller in engineering and law firms.

The Kaiser High School graduate said he decided to do something meaningful and green. During his research on a business plan, he stumbled onto the Sun Cache product online.

“This product didn’t require you to change the water heater,” the Hawaii Kai resident says. “It didn’t require any pumps, sensors or controllers. The product was designed for California, and since we don’t have a lot of temperature variations for day and night, I thought it would be an ideal product for a tropical climate.”

He started SunEnergy Hawaii in 2008, and to get the word out, he displays at trade shows, does power point presentations and has a brochure. The entrepreneur appreciates the support of all his customers, friends, family and especially his son Joshua.

In the next few months, Kea plans to offer wind turbines from Honeywell that can generate energy for homes and businesses.

For more information, call 277-9057.

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