Is Now the Time for a New Solar Hot Water System? 1

Is Now the Time for a New Solar Hot Water System?

The number of solar homeowners in the District of Columbia today reach near a million.  The main reason DC residents have resorted to solar electrical was that the rebate program that’s been available through the DC Department of the surroundings.  While solar electrical installations have become commonplace and widely researched, you don’t hear a lot about solar hot water – until today.  Before this year, DC altered the rules of its solar energy rebate program to incorporate a solar hot water rebate equal to 20 percent of the machine’s price.  As there are no guarantees this lien will continue beyond 2012, many homeowners have a crash course in the basics of solar hot water — trying to determine whether to get in on the home before it disappears.  On June 25th, several Capitol Hill neighbors along with two solar hot water contractors placed a city-wide public meeting about solar hot water technology, installation costs and accessible subsidies.  Materials from the meeting are now offered at  Below are some highlights, but more information can be found on the website.

To kick off the meeting, I provided a few photos of the new solar hot water program I had installed May 2012.  Like solar enthusiasts in the District, I began with solar electrical.  But , I made sure my contractor left enough space for after installation of solar hot water panels.  I managed to save a little cash on the solar hot water setup since the mounting supports for my own solar electric were pre-designed to likewise encourage the solar hot water panels.  I can now test my new (quite large) solar hot water tank to observe how well the sun is doing — it’s been studying at approximately 120-140 degrees based on the time of day.  Goodbye showers!  My family adores the new system because I am not telling them about conserving enough warm water for all to shower.  My old (and little ) gas driven water tank is still intact as a backup, but especially in the summertime, we won’t need to fire that up at all.

Resident Capitol Hill solar professional, Andy Kerr, had a solar hot water system installed earlier this season.  He’s developed a nice presentation describing the initial price tag of his system, the rebates he was eligible for (the DC lien, a 30% Federal tax credit and the selling of solar renewable energy credits), along with the return on investment he expects out of his system.  Because solar hot water systems will need to be sized into the warm water demands you might need, Andy has also developed a spreadsheet letting you punch in your own numbers to figure out the economics of solar hot water.  In his own casehe paid approximately $8,500, but with all the 3 rebates, his cost fell to approximately $3,000 — which works out to an 8 year simple payback, along with a 7.7percent return on investment over 20 years.

Andy’s calculations may get marginally better since DC SUN has established a partnership with two vendors, Solar Energy Services along with Clean Currents.  For each contract signed by DC SUN associates, the two businesses have generously offered to donate to DC SUN’s EmPowerment Fund which assists provide solar permits to low-income families.

Please take a look at the substances on the site and choose for yourself if solar hot water is going to be in your future.  As we suggested with solar electric installations, it is always a good idea to find a number of bids before jumping into a purchase.  If you are on the fence and want more time, we advise that you put your title to the list for a DC rebate while you are creating your decision.  Finally, please join our listserve in the DC SUN page, where you are able to post inquiries and help us start a new dialog on solar thermal.

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Ask The Right Questions: How To Choose An RV To Live In Full-Time 2

Ask The Right Questions: How To Choose An RV To Live In Full-Time

  • Disclosure: This post comprises affiliate links. Please see our complete disclaimer.
    What does each person’s job (or college ) program look like? Will people be competing for the exact same distance (table) at times?
    What amenities are really vital for you to get in a fulltime rig? Aside from having running water and power, my 2 must-haves are an indoor kitchen and a toilet. Jerud’s is to sit in bed without hitting his mind. While I like swimming, I do not want to camp each day of my life and having to cook and poop outside a part of that which makes camping, nicely, camping. I know having to do that every single day would make me miserable. However not having a shower isn’t a major deal to me personally. I am handsome taking a”shower” using a bowl and small towel.


  • The capacities of RVs differ greatly from how they push to the amenities they offer on the inside. Your selection of RVs will be powerfully influenced by if you stay in RV parks, developed campgrounds, moochdock with family or friends, or boondock on undeveloped sites.


    Are you alright with a bed you need to put away every morning and set up in the evenings?
    How do your sleeping habits differ between you, your partner, and kids? Do you require a means to close off the bedrooms from the rest of the rig? Or are you lucky enough that it’s just you and your pet?
    How long are you going to maintain the rig? Solar power costs much up front but conserves more money the longer you use it we broke after our very first year – so in order to actually compare solar vs. a generator, then you need to understand how long you will be utilizing them.

    We knew since we were shopping for replacements which we wanted to boondock the vast majority of the time. Boondocking for us means BLM and national forest lands with no hookups (fresh water, RV dump, or power ). We need to be self-sufficient and self explanatory for the amount of time we want to remain. We’d also desired a rig with the capability to handle the rough road conditions involved with getting to a few of those places.
    Jerud and that I have a tendency to each have our own work space, but we do occasionally share the table I’m sitting facing – which is the only table at the rig.

  • Do you plan to hang out in your rig a good deal or use it just as a place to sleep?
    Would you be fine with a moist bath?
  • Our longer stays means we do not need to set up the Toaster as frequently as previously: leveling the rig with blocks and landing legs, unhitching the Toaster from the truck, extending the stabilizing jacks, pushing out the slide, and keeping loose items onto the mattress while driving. And undoing all to travel again. It got old quickly after we did it every couple of days.
    Among the chief reasons we chose a larger rig over other choices was our larger dog Tybee. It was crucial that people had a safe distance for the (and of course Tyki). She was 12 years old if people hit the road and her mobility was decreasing. We knew we can no longer bring her with us on each hike or any bicycle rides. So, it was important for us to purchase a rig that was large enough for her to easily move about in and comfy enough for her to keep independently.
    Things To Consider

    Do you want space onto your rig to take a bike or bicycle to utilize as your alternative mode of transport?
    Do you prefer the standard RV bathroom and black tank or are you interested in an alternative like a composting or cassette bathroom?

  • Do you need to have the ability to close your bedroom off from the remainder of the rig? What about the children’?

    Things To Consider

  • It rained hard on us while we had been boondocked at Colorado in late spring (aka mud season). The dogs were covered in sand after our walks and we had to wash off their feet to the tailgate and then carry them to the Toaster. We learned our lesson after this incident.

    • Before we proceed to the queries, the crucial issue to remember is that your patterns and requires at a house aren’t likely to end up being your patterns and needs on the road. They’ll end up shifting to match your new area and your brand new nomadic lifestyle. But your existing behaviors continue to be a great starting point within this decision-making process. Just remember to be more open to things shifting once you’re actually on the road.
      Things To Consider

      • This is the tightest space we’ve ever squeezed the Toaster through.

        What is a suitable sleeping arrangement for your kids? Can they discuss beds?

      • What kind of space to you need to keep your pet safe while she’s alone? Does she want to be crated? What about climate controller (back to the decision to own A/C or never )?

        Tybee and Tyki each have their own beds in the Toaster.

        What do you do in case you will want a quiet spot to be on a conference call?
        Part of our kitchen. Our induction cooktop is stored over the toaster oven.

      Part of our kitchen. Our induction cooktop is stored above the toaster oven.

      Where will your kids hang out and play? I have seen parents put up enclosed playpens out their springs for younger children or hang on a reclining seat in the ceiling of the rig.
      This is what the inside of our rig looks like when we’re too lazy to put the slide out. It’s just enough space for us to squeeze from the main room into the bedroom (where Tyki is).

    • Would you like a rig that could go on irregular terrain?
      Standard RVs aren’t intended for year-long, four-season dwelling. Even though some offer”arctic packages” to deal with cold temperatures, they’re still not as efficient as a home (they’d be extremely hefty if they were). But, your home on the street has to be comfy and secure for you and your loved ones in the key kinds of weather you are going to be in. Getting trapped in freezing temperatures a few times each year doesn’t justify forking out extra money for an arctic bundle. But if you intend to head to a ski town for the whole winter, every winter, then it’s probably worth buying a rig that does well in cold temperatures — even if you are likely to get full hook-ups — and even more so if you are going to boondock.
      What are the morning, meal time, and day routines? These are the times when there’s the maximum chance of battle because everyone in your rig is up and around.
      Do you want space for entertaining fellow travelers or family and friends?

      All of our electricity comes from our solar panels.

      • Does your pet have specific needs? For example, Tybee could not move up steps on her own, therefore we built her a dip within the Toaster.
        That is why the next thing to do is to rent an RV and accept it on a genuine trip (preferably longer than a weekend). We rented and just brought our rig one evaluation trip before we began the rebuilding process. However, we often wish we rented a few distinct rigs. Yes, leasing a few rigs cost more cash, but expense is nothing in comparison with the price of the rig you are going to purchase. It is sensible to spend a bit extra so you can be sure that you’ll be happy with your big purchase. It’s fine if you don’t know the specific kinds of rigs you’re thinking of purchasing yet. Having firsthand experience living in an RV and spending some time on the road is invaluable. Renting an RV can help confirm your answers to the questions over, or help you realize things you have overlooked.
        Rooftop solar panels need periodic cleaning which means going on the roof. If that does not sound fun, ground-deployed solar panels are a choice — however, they just take up storage space on traveling days.

      • Sorry, no human kids here.

        Selecting an RV to turn into your full-time house is a very private decision and procedure. Only you know what kind of lifestyle you would like your roadlife to supply. But if you are reading this, you’re probably like us – eager to reside outside the standards of society that is stationary, and even of the traditional RV community. My goal for this post is to help make you get started with some important questions regarding road life and direct one to ask yourself particular, tailored questions.
        Do the areas you would like to see require you to have 4WD?

      We’re an Outdoorsy affiliate, however most of thoughts and suggestions in this article are my very own.

      Tybee and Tyki all possess their own beds at the Toaster.
      Many people use the blend of petrol and a generator to acquire their electricity while boondocking. But an increasing number of full-timers are adding solar panels for their own setup. You may not want any solar added because it does mean more money and work. Solar prep bundles only get you a little head start on adding solar. But if you really do want to implement some level of solar onto the rig, then how much of the electricity that you need to get from the sun might impact the size and style of rig you become. Installing a lot of solar panels onto a bigger rig (less than 20 ft. long) is possible but may need some compromises. Take a look at this record that will help you work out how much gasoline you may need.

    This rig is going to be your home, and like most of houses, it has to match that you are. Maybe not from its functionality, although the aesthetics and décor sensation. Evidently, it is not feasible for the RV to provide all the items that a home does. This is where you start to prioritize the items that are important for you. For example: I like sunlight and superior views, so I needed a rig with a great deal of windows. We’re thrifty and do not eat out frequently, so a great size kitchen that is also accessible without placing the slide out (to easily make dishes on traveling days) was significant to us. We love the outdoors and wanted lots of storage for many of our different equipment. Ask yourself the way you are likely to utilize the space within the rig.

  • Things To Consider
  • Sorry, no individual children here.
    Do you plan on chasing fantastic ski (or other cold-weather sport) conditions? How will you stay warm in freezing temperatures?

  • Do you will need a big or little fresh water tank? For example: you might not need a large new water tank if you merely stay at RV parks, but you might need it if you’ve got a huge family and intend to boondock, or only need to stay out for quite a while. Be aware: there are ways to overcome a too-small fresh tank (link to water tote ).

    Would you need to install everything for a quick overnight stay? Occasionally we do not bother to set the slide out once staying in a parking lot or rest area for a single night. In the event you wind up getting a rig with slips and consider doing the same like us, make certain you are able to get bedroom, toilet , and kitchen without having to put them out.


    All of our power comes in our solar panels.

    This is exactly what the interior of our rig seems like when we are too lazy to put the slide out. It’s just enough space for people to squeeze from the primary room to the bedroom (where Tyki is).
    Does your rig have to be under a maximum height to enable you to investigate small, overgrown streets and distant locations from the highways?

  • Here can be the tightest space we have ever squeezed through.

  • Power Grids May Need Modernization to Take SBSP!

    By Matthew L. Wald
    printed 26 August, 2008


    Wind Energy Bumps Into Power Grid’s Constraints
    Does this create space-based solar power measurably harder?

    This is something we clearly have to remember as we chase power.

    Starbase202, our buddy, sent me. It comes in the New York Times online: (please disregard shots taken at political characters in the article–that’s no aim here)

    It’s critical for architectural designers and company case programmers to think about how the power given by energy satellites by the antenna onto the floor into the power grids will be fed by us. Wind power is currently having a significant problem within this.

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