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Green Hawaii

(page 5 of 12)

The Power of Clean

Clean energy is the right thing for us today and for future generations.

There’s more. Oahu’s first wind farm came online in 2011 and construction started on a second one more than twice as large. With two additional wind farms being developed on Maui and a 25 percent boost in geothermal power on Hawaii Island, our state’s renewable energy* scorecard is looking good.

In fact, all renewable energy projects in place or in the works on Oahu, Maui County and Hawaii Island grids total over 1,000 megawatts. That is a big chunk against today’s 2,400 megawatts total generation capacity.

With more than 12 percent of total electricity supplied by the Hawaiian Electric utilities coming from renewable sources in 2011, Hawaii is on the way to the next milestone, 15 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2015. However, there’s more to be done. We cannot back off now! Hawaii remains the most oil dependent state in the nation. As oil prices rise, the cost of fueling our cars and powering our homes, schools and workplaces rises with it. And today’s prices are expected to stay high or rise. In 2012 and beyond, pursuing clean energy (efficiency and renewables) is the best long-term answer.

In the past several years, Hawaii has moved well down the road to a clean energy future.  Heading into 2012, Hawaii remains high among states with the most total solar installations and solar watts installed per person. Nearly one in three single-family homes now uses solar power to heat water. 

Renewables: Worth the Cost

Did you know: More than half your monthly electric bill pays for fuel, almost entirely imported oil?  Of the $61 increase in a typical Oahu electric bill in 2011, $57 was to pay for oil, $4 for other costs.

What that means: We have to cut our dependence on imported oil.

The solution: Continue toward our “Less and Local” goal, seeking energy efficiency and renewable energy from sources right here in Hawaii. (Renewable energy prices, not tied to oil, are stable and predictable.)

What about the upfront costs of renewables? New technology and infrastructure to reliably harness renewable energy have a cost. But even with the up-front investment, replacing oil with clean, local energy will be less expensive in the long run.

Bottom line: Renewables are Hawaii’s long-term energy solution.

How do we get there?

The goal of using cheaper, cleaner, more efficient energy starts with us. We all have the power to:

1. Conserve energy we use each day, using less to perform common tasks (this saves money, too).
2. Support conversion to local renewables right here at home.

Here’s how you can help: Simple Steps To Lowering Your Energy Bill.


1. Set your A/C above 75 degrees. Each degree above 75° saves approximately 3 percent of the energy needed to cool your home.

For more tips, check out Hawaiian Electric’s “Power to Save” and “101 Ways to Save” booklets as well as “Energy Tips and Choices.” Find them at heco.com.

2. Switch to CFLs. Replacing 10 incandescent bulbs with CFLs can save up to $240 per year. Check out new LED (light emitting diode) bulbs that can save even more.

3. Audit your home-energy use. Click on “My Home Energy Check” at heco.com for links to two step-by-step guides.

4. Repair a leaky faucet. At one drop per second, a faucet leaking hot water can waste up to 1,661 gallons and $79 a year.

Next Month

1. Start an energy-savings account. Each month, auto-transfer a small sum. When you’ve saved enough, spend it on an energy-saving item: a new ENERGY STAR® fridge, washing machine, dishwasher or a solar water-heating system.

2. Create a family-energy checklist. Commit to energy changes: Post a checklist on the fridge. Put each family member in charge of one daily energy-saving task (such as turning off unused lights or unplugging unused electronics). Treat the family to some fun with the money saved.

3. Get paid for your old appliance. Let Hawaii Energy pick up your old-but-working appliance. In exchange, Hawaii Energy’s new Bounty Program will pay you $25 on Oahu and $65 on Maui and Hawaii Island. Find out more at hawaiienergy.com.

4. Visit a solar open house / attend a seminar. Blue Planet Foundation’s new Solar Portal (blueplanetfoundation.org/hawaiisolarportal) lists upcoming solar seminars (to learn more from PV contractors) and open houses (to tour homes already outfitted with PV). It also features reviews of local solar contractors and info on available rebates and incentives.

Within the Year

Choosing just one of these in the next year can mean major savings.

1. Install solar-water heating. Cut your water-heating costs by up to 90 percent and receive a rebate from Hawaii Energy and state and federal tax incentives, worth as much as $4,552 toward the cost of a new system (which costs an average $6,600). Find details at hawaiienergy.com.

2. Replace your old fridge with an ENERGY STAR ® model. Replacing a 10-year (or older) fridge can save up to $300 per year in energy costs. With your savings, that new fridge could pay for itself in as little as three years.

3. Improve your energy envelope. Cut an estimated 20 to 30 percent from your annual electricity bill by properly sealing and insulating your home, according to ENERGY STAR®. Ask a qualified contractor to find “leak spots” in your home, inefficient windows or insulation that needs to be replaced.

4. Inspect your air conditioner. As much as half the electricity in the average home is used to heat and cool. Inspect your air-conditioning systems annually. Visit energystar.gov and click on “Home Improvement,” then “Heat and Cool Efficiently” for a yearly maintenance checklist and other tips.

5. Save receipts. Tax breaks may be available for energy-saving items you buy this year. Remember to keep your paperwork safe until tax time.

Working Together

Hawaiian Electric is working hard to help home and business owners move toward cleaner energy use while bringing the cost of electricity down in the long run. Here’s what’s happening now:

1. Hawaiian Electric’s valuable “Power to Save” booklets are now available in Ilocano and Cantonese and “Power to Save for Business” is available in Korean. Visit heco.com or stop by the customer-service desk at your utility office.

2. Tiered Rates: Today, the utility’s goal is to get customers to use less electricity without giving up comfort, convenience or security. With tiered rates, you pay more with the more kilowatt hours you use.  

How it works: The first 300 kilowatt-hours cost less than kilowatt-hours from 301 to 999, with the highest price when you go over 1,000 kilowatt-hours.

How it helps: Consult your bill to see your usual electricity use and think about how to keep it below the threshold. (A “typical” home on Oahu uses 600 kWh a month on average.)

Where to find out more: Go to heco.com and check Residential Services. You do not need to do anything but use less electricity to take advantage of these rates.

3. Time-of-Use Rates: The greatest demand for electricity is from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., followed by 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Overnight, from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., demand is lowest. Time-of-use rates let you pay less per kilowatt-hour for electricity used off-peak and slightly more for electricity during peak times. If you have an electric vehicle you can take advantage of a special discount rate which also costs less for electricity used from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.

How it works: Hawaiian Electric will install a special meter able to record when electricity is used.

Where to learn more: Go to heco.com and check under Residential Services or Electric Vehicles. You will need to sign up for these rates.


Hot Water, Hot Savings

Installing solar-water heating remains one of the best ways to save energy and money at home. Strong incentives make it an easier decision. Here’s a snapshot of the current benefits:

  1. 30% Federal tax credit
  2. 35% State tax credit
  3. $750 Rebate from Hawaii Energy (hawaiienergy.com)

These benefits could bring the typical cost of solar-water heating from $6,600 (average cost of system) to $2,048. Solar-water heating can pay for itself through lower electric bills in as little as four years.


Solar Water Heating, By the Numbers

$3,611: Amount spent, per person, on energy in Hawaii in 2009 (about $150 higher than the national average)

48: States that use more energy per person than Hawaii. (Only Rhode Islanders use less.) In Hawaii, we use less energy per person than 48 of the 50 states. Yet Hawaii has some of the highest energy prices in the country. Let’s reverse that trend together!

80,000+: Approximate number of solar water heaters in Hawaii (making Hawaii a per-capita leader).

90%: Percentage of the cost homeowners can save after installing a solar-water heating system.

25% to 35%: Percentage of the typical electric bill that goes to heating water. (Bring it down by installing solar-water heating.)

4: Average years to recoup 100 percent of the cost of installing solar-water heating.

Source: Most recent state data, U.S. Department of Energy (energy.gov)


Making Solar Affordable

Interested in installing solar- water heating but unable to pay the upfront cost? Consider financing through Hawaii Energy’s “Hot Water, Cool Rates” program. It will pay your qualified lender up to $1,000 which may drop your interest rate to zero.


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