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Scott BennettAs published by the Brooklin Town Crier - December 18, 2009

by Scott Bennett

Solar hot water in Brooklin? You bet! I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dave Hachey recently to talk about a new fixture on his roof. Dave and his wife Karen have lived in Brooklin for six years. Five months ago, the Hacheys had a solar water heater installed, so I was curious to catch up with them to talk about it.

Dave Hachey and FamilyWhen I asked Dave what his motivation was in purchasing the solar water heater system, he said, "I think we're all trying to do what we can." Dave also explained that this was a long-term investment that would add value to his home. The great thing about this is that "it's invisible to us," says Dave. The solar water heater system runs like other systems we use in our homes that we often don't even think about. It's automatic like the furnace (except no furnace filters to remember to change).

Dave found a solar water heating installer when he met Peter Watson, owner of Tranquility Home Comfort Ltd., at a social function. He hired Peter and his team to install the solar water heater. Dave was impressed by the work of Peter and his team, saying "it was a really smooth process - they came in and told us what they would do - and they followed through and did it. They even assisted in getting an energy auditor back in" (to finish off the assessment in order to obtain the ecoENERGY grants). I'll tell you more next month about Peter, also a Brooklin resident, and his business success with solar water heaters.

A solar water heater system has a few components - mainly a solar collector (typically on a roof) and a hot water storage tank. The system is connected to the existing hot water tank. When hot water is used in the home, the existing hot water heater is filled from the solar hot water storage tank instead of using cold water. This reduces the work for the existing hot water heater and therefore reduces the greenhouse gasses from the water heater by up to 50%. It not only reduces your carbon footprint, it also means you're saving up to 50% on your energy bills.

The Hacheys are also green in other ways. Kaylee and Zachary take litterless lunches to school, toting juice in reusable bottles and food in reusable containers. Dave and Karen have replaced most of the light bulbs in their home with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), and they even increased the attic insulation in their home. The attic insulation came up as an opportunity when they had an energy auditor in so they would qualify for the ecoENERGY grants for the solar hot water system. The audit revealed that the attic insulation could be increased, which would also qualify them for an additional grant.

Dave Hachey and his family are showing us that we can do more to go green. Their water heater is 50% more energy efficient than most of the homes in Brooklin. They are green leaders in our community!

In my next article, I'll tell you more about Brooklin's local solar water heater business, Tranquility Home Comfort.

For more ideas on how to go green, see our green tips for heating and cooling.