In a decision that was five years in the making—starting back when the price of oil was one-third the price of what it is today—Republican governor Linda Lingle recently signed into law a bill mandating that all new homes built in Hawaii must have a solar water heater.
Water heaters comprise between 11 and 40 percent of an average home’s total energy consumption, so in a state such as Hawaii, which imports 90 percent of its energy in the form of fossil fuels, this initiative can have a huge impact.
Opponents to the bill point out that the requirements will add thousands of dollars to the cost of homes. Proponents argue that those numbers are an exaggeration because Hawaii’s climate is very conducive to the application of the technology; DIYers can build a solar water heater for as little as $5.
Homes built in heavily wooded areas will be made exempt to the requirement. California’s law, which gives incentives to individuals who purchase and use solar water heaters, is the only other similar piece of legislation in America.
More about clean energy initiatives
• Find out what changes Obama has made to lighting efficiency standards, effective in 2012.