Kaneohe Family Wins Solar Water System, Thousands in Savings

KANEOHE (KHNL) -- In Friday's Earth and Sea project report, we meet the winner of our solar system giveaway. He says he was going to purchase a solar water heating system anyway because it saves money and is good for the environment.

The system would've cost $9,000, but of course, he didn't pay a thing. And he'll be saving thousands more over the next 10 to 15 years.

Derek Tanabe has one word for his family's new solar water heater system.

"terrific," he said.

It's courtesy the crew at Suntech Hawaii, the grand prize in our recent Earth Day giveaway. It's also the beginning of huge savings for the family.

"Not quite the full extent, but I know we're gonna be saving a lot of money," said Tanabe.

"With today's energy prices, you can save about $20 per month, per person in the family's household," said Sean Mullen, of Suntech Hawaii.

Tanabe is expected to save between $120 and $150 a month, because he has six people living here.

The savings for going solar don't end there. Hawaiian Electric offers a $1000rebate for new installations. And there are also state and federal tax credits.

"We're seeing a lot of business at this point already, people are lining up just to get a spot, to get an installation," said Mullen.

Then there's the environmental benefits. Using solar panels to heat water means you're using 30-to-40 percent less electricity. And every part of the system -- from the glass panels, the copper tubing, to the metal in the water heater -- are all recycled.

"If we can all pitch in and do our part, hopefully the earth can be the same, or not as bad as predicted in the future," said Tanabe.

Suntech Hawaii is offering a special to everyone who entered the contest, more than 2000 people.

They'll knock off another $250 for new solar heater installations to all those who didn't win.