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Rob Sargent,
Environment New York Research & Policy Center

Solar Hot Water Heating Could Cut NY’s Global Warming Pollution Equal to Taking 614,000 Cars Off the Road

For Immediate Release

New York could reduce pollution and dependence on fossil fuels through the deployment of off the shelf, cost-effective solar hot water technology, according to a new report by Environment New York.

By taking advantage of this cost effective technology to harness solar energy to produce hot water for homes and businesses, New York could reduce global warming pollution by the equivalent of taking 614,000 cars off the road.

“By tapping the heat of the sun we can reduce the fossil fuels we use for our heating and hot water needs, while putting people to work in our communities,” stated Environment New York’s Field Organizer Eric Whalen.  “We’ve long had the technology and the know-how to harness the free heat of the sun to get hot water, and more than ever we have a workforce that is ready to install these affordable solar panels on roofs across the state.

Solar water heating has the potential to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels and curb pollution that causes global warming and respiratory problems. Solar water heating delivers a variety of benefits to the economy as well:

  • Solar water heating could reduce American's energy bills by $9.9 billion annually, saving residential customers 3.2 percent and businesses 1.6 percent of their current energy expenditures.
  • By installing solar hot water systems, homeowners and businesses become sheltered from the risks of wild swings in fossil fuel energy prices.
  • Solar water heating increases America's energy security and creates local jobs.

By eliminating the barriers to solar hot water, policy makers can help provide homeowners and businesses long-term savings and protect them from unstable energy prices. Solar water heating increases America’s energy independence, reduces the environmental and public health costs of fossil fuel-related pollution, and creates jobs. Europe’s solar thermal industry, for example, employs 40,000 people and brings in $4.1 billion in annual sales.

The report, Smart, Clean, and Ready to Go: How Solar Hot Water Can Reduce Pollution and Dependence on Fossil Fuels, based primarily on a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, provides a conservative estimate of America’s potential to use residential and commercial solar water heating, and the savings in fossil fuel, electricity, and global warming pollution if that potential is fully realized.

"Heat & Hot water consume more than half the energy used in NYS buildings, and there is 10 times more solar hot water installed worldwide than solar electric PV” said Ron Kamen, President of the New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA.) Kamen continued “This groundbreaking report documents that New York - and the nation - can save money, create jobs, reduce pollution, and move towards energy independence by adopting solar hot water technology and letting the sun provide fuel-free hot water for our homes, businesses, and institutions."

The results of the report would come from only minimal investments in solar hot water heating, but Environment New York called on state and federal officials to commit to aggressive steps to encourage the installation of solar water heaters on homes and businesses and to promote other solar water heating technologies that can make an even bigger dent in pollution and our consumption of fossil fuels. Solar hot water is particularly cost effective for large institutions that use a lot of hot water, such as hotels and large laundry operations.

“There are already thousands of homes and businesses saving energy and money by harnessing the sun for hot water,” said Whalen. “These panels last for decades, so investing in them now builds a strong foundation for the future of our environment and our economy.”

“That’s the best part about using the sun to heat your water,” concluded Whalen. “With a small investment up-front, you can reduce your global warming pollution and enjoy lower energy bills year after year.”