Hawaii Energy, the energy efficiency and conservation program for Hawaii, Honolulu and Maui counties, recently teamed up with Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike, a nonprofit construction-skills training program for at-risk youth in Hana, to bring solar water heating systems to households in the area. Through collaboration with Hawaii Energy, Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike students helped install solar water heating systems in three Hana homes. This gave students the opportunity to work hands-on in the energy efficiency and conservation field with a licensed professional.
“We are excited to be a part of this project, which not only facilitated the installation of solar water heating systems for in-need households in Hana, but also provided an opportunity for the training of Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike team members and students in the design, installation and maintenance of these systems,” said Ray Starling, Hawaii Energy Program Director. “Through this mentorship approach to education, Hana youth gained valuable and practical hands-on training.”
As part of the effort, students learned how to design a solar water heating system, order materials, mount solar panels and orient them for optimum performance. They also learned plumbing skills, including soldering, insulating and constructing to code. Hawaii Energy procured the systems through Inter-Island Solar Supply Maui, and Redo Trucking delivered them from the vendor to the respective job sites. Hawaii Energy is in the process of inspecting the systems to ensure that the installations conform to Hawaii Energy’s solar water heating system standards and specifications. On-going system service and maintenance will be provided by Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike and/or individuals from Hana. Green Global Communities, Inc. also assisted with the project.
“With Hana being such a close-knit community, the three extended families that have benefitted from these installations are now sharing with others about the application and financial savings from system installation,” said Rick Rutiz, Executive Director of Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike. “Thanks to this wonderful project, Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike and Hawaii Energy staff have been able to teach Hana area residents about rebates, tax incentives and return on investment for solar water heating systems. This is leading to heightened interest in energy efficiency in the remote East Maui region.”
A typical home’s largest energy consumer is the electric water heater if the household doesn’t have air conditioning or a swimming pool. When a household of four or more switches to a solar water heater, they can save up to 40 percent on their electric bill.