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Changing minds with the power of solar

Company aims to cut cost and resources used to heat water
  • Solar Power Shower’s biggest challenge is getting consumers to understand the benefits of using solar systems.

Guardian Business Reporter

Published: Aug 23, 2013

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As the average household spends approximately $2,000 a year to heat water electrically, Solar Power Shower, a company providing solar water heating systems, is appealing to Bahamians to take advantage of the country’s almost year-round sun to save money and help the environment.

In this week’s edition of Da Plunge, Sam Duncombe, a leading environmentalist and the company’s president, revealed the biggest challenge for the four-year-old business has been getting consumers to understand the benefits of using these systems.

“I think because when people open up their BEC (Bahamas Electricity Corporation) bill, they get a shock, the response has been great as a result. The question we usually get right off the top is does this really work. Of course it does,” she said.

“There are two kinds of people: The people that know that solar works, they find you, quote you and then they buy, and there are others that you almost have to coax into buying because they are not sure if the product works.

“Believe it or not, living in a country where there are 315 days of sunshine, with the average sun hours a day being nine, some people still can’t really grasp the concept that you can fully heat your water by the sun without any problems.

“But I can assure you it works and it saves money. It also saves the environment. Within three hours of good sunlight, your water is hot for the day.”

Duncombe pointed out that heating water using the sun in a natural method that does not involve any chemical by-products.

She said the concept of solar power in the household for everyday essentials is much less complicated than people may perceive.

“If you leave a hose in the sun and you turn it on, you have to wait until all of that hot water comes out of it and it’s the same concept with solar,” Duncombe explained.

She added that given an average electric heater may use around 5,000 kilowatt hours of power a year, that adds up to $2,000 per year in water heating costs with BEC’s present rate of $0.43 per kilowatt hour.

Solar Power Shower carries a variety of different systems, including evacuated tubes, which Duncombe noted is the latest thing on the market in thermal heating.

“Because the tubes are round, they have the ability to attract the sun no matter the angle that they are at, whereas with the flat panel, you need the sun directly overhead to get maximum efficiency,” she said.

The company also offers solar LED lighting, solar attic fans, reverse osmosis systems, solar water heater accessories and solar golf cart kits.

Duncombe said there is great potential to move the business forward, as they have barely “scratched the surface”.

“When you consider how many homes there are in The Bahamas, not just in New Providence that do not have solar water heating, we haven’t even scratched the surface in the solar water heating component of our business,” she added.

“A lot more people are familiar with PV (photovoltaic) panels. That’s where they think the savings are and in fact, your first saving is going to come from heating your water using solar as opposed to putting a bunch of panels on your roof.

“That’s one of the first things that you want to replace as far as starting the steps towards going solar.” Currently, Solar Power Shower has two full-time employees.

Last Updated on Friday, 23 August 2013 16:38

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