ORCCA pilots low income solar water heater program

KCBY, Mar 16, 2010

A local non-profit is testing out a new program, that it hopes will help two low income households cut down on energy costs, by supplying them with solar water heaters.

The installations are a first for Oregon Coast Community Action, who with a grant from the Energy Trust of Oregon, were able to supply the two low income solar access or “LISA” hot water heaters to homes in Coos Bay and Powers.

“We feel it takes a significant burden off our low income clients and it’s worth doing. It’s instant hot water, so it’s different than waiting for your water heater to heat up,” says ORCCA Director of Energy Assistance Patty Gouveia.

The water heater consists of flat-plate collectors that are placed on the roof and send energy to burners in the water heater inside the house.

According to Shannon Souza with Sol-Coast Consulting and Design, during the summer, the water heaters can save 60 to 80 percent of all energy costs for a family.

“When we look at lower incomes, naturally, the percentage that they’re spending of their take-home pay on electricity is huge compared to higher income families, where the electricity bill isn’t as big a percentage. So we can have a larger impact.”

For more information about the hot water heaters or other ORCCA low income energy assistance services log onto www.orcca.us.