Program rolls out second round of solar-powered hot water systems

Workers+install+solar+panels+on+the+roof+of+a+building.+SHOP+allows+participants+to+purchase+solar-powered+hot+water+heaters+as+a+group+in+order+to+reduce+costs.
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Program rolls out second round of solar-powered hot water systems

Workers install solar panels on the roof of a building. SHOP allows participants to purchase solar-powered hot water heaters as a group in order to reduce costs.

Workers install solar panels on the roof of a building. SHOP allows participants to purchase solar-powered hot water heaters as a group in order to reduce costs.

Source: SHOP Evanston on Facebook

Workers install solar panels on the roof of a building. SHOP allows participants to purchase solar-powered hot water heaters as a group in order to reduce costs.

Source: SHOP Evanston on Facebook

Source: SHOP Evanston on Facebook

Workers install solar panels on the roof of a building. SHOP allows participants to purchase solar-powered hot water heaters as a group in order to reduce costs.

Paige Leskin, Reporter

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Evanston residents now have their second chance to buy solar-powered hot water systems.

The Solar H2O Community Program, which debuted in June 2013, gives participants the opportunity to purchase systems that use energy from the sun to heat water. Each system consists of two roof panels to absorb light, a large hot water storage tank and various pipes and pumps. Enrollment in the second round of buying started in December.

Co-founder Ron Fleckman said the program’s goal is protecting the environment and getting others to do the same.

“I wanted to reduce as many barriers for people to get to use hot water as an alternative energy source,” he said.

By relying on solar power, Fleckman said purchasers are able to reduce their greenhouse emissions and use less energy, which can lower expenses significantly. SHOP, part of the US Solar Network, uses climate system manufacturer Heliodyne to engineer programs specifically designed for Evanston houses and make the systems as affordable as possible.

SHOP can offer a reduced price by purchasing systems in bulk, Fleckman said. SHOP requires a group of at least 20 participants for the program to go through. In the first round of SHOP’s program, 28 Evanston residents enrolled. Fleckman said SHOP has had seven participants sign up for the second round since it opened in December and will limit enrollment to around 30 homes.

“We’re doing it exactly the same way, since the first group was met with tremendous amounts of success,” he said.

Evanston resident Jonathan Nieuwsma took advantage of SHOP’s first program. As vice president of Citizens’ Greener Evanston, Nieuwsma said he was immediately onboard with SHOP’s ideas when he heard about the program through Fleckman and co-founder Bill McDowell. Since its installation, the system has been very effective, even with a bitterly cold winter, he said.

He said helping the environment is very important to him, and encouraged others in Evanston to enroll in SHOP.

“I want to reduce my family’s carbon footprint, because global warming is the number one problem facing humanity as a whole,” he said. “We can all benefit from increased purchasing power.”

SHOP allows residents to apply for a statewide incentive called the Illinois Solar and Wind Energy Rebate Program. Among the first SHOP group, every participant who applied was approved for the rebate.

Wayne Hartel, an energy program specialist with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said the rebate program is important to “make solar and wind projects more economical to residents and help to promote the continued development of renewable energy in Illinois.”

Due to SHOP and similar programs, Evanston has become one of the more energy-friendly cities in the state. According to numbers from the state DCEO, Evanston submitted 27 rebate applications, which was only beat by Chicago, which submitted 68.

Email: paigeleskin2017@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @paigeleskin

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