energy efficiency, sustainability, green buildings, solar, hybrid cars and alternate fuels.

"A society built on green design, sustainable energy and closed loop systems, a civilization afloat on a cloud of efficient, non-toxic, recyclable technology." ~~Alex Nikolai Steffan


Environmentally Friendly Home Building Part Two

In a previous post, I mentioned some technologies that had been listed in the Top 10 for 2007, by the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH). These technologies were rated based upon their durability, efficiency, affordability and environmental performance in residential homes.

As we may have guessed, solar water heating was listed.

What I didn't expect was the statement that said solar water heaters have been commercially available since the 1800's! Is this correct?

A little amateur research lead me to learn that first commercial solar water heater, named Climax, was introduced by Clarence Kemp in the
1890's! According to "A Brief History of the American Solar Water Heating Industry," the unit was available in California for a $25 investment that would save approximately $9 a year in coal costs. There was no word on its cost benefits or its success. However, solar water heating seemed to be available only in California and Florida for a number of years because the thermosyphon system couldn't withstand a freeze.

The drawing is from a patent application filed in 1919 for a "solar heat collecting apparatus."

Supposedly, the California patent was sold to a gentleman in Florida in exchange for an Oldsmobile. The business grew between from the 1930's exporting thousands of units to the Caribbean from Florida. When World War II started, the copper tubing became redirected to the war effort.

After the war, the units became popular again and half of Miami homes had solar water heaters with over 80% of the new homes having them installed. Oh, where did we go wrong?

Unfortunately, in the early 1950's when electricity became cheap in Florida, utility companies gave away electric water heaters.

By 1973, there were only two full-time solar water heating companies left in the United States both operating out of Miami.

What's that saying about being doomed to repeat history?



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