This is not the first time solar panels have graced the White House’s roof: President Jimmy Carter had 32 panels installed in the late 1970s to provide the House with hot water, but Reagan removed them in 1986. (Washington Post)
Solar water heaters on the White House grounds “can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people; harnessing the power of the Sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.” -Carter, 1979
White House officials estimate the Obamas’ installation will produce about19,700 kilowatt hours of electricity a year. According to The Associated Press, that will save a typical Washington, D.C.-area household $2,300 on its electricity bill. The solar hot water heating system could save an additional $1,000 a year.
What will ONE sole kilowatt do?
- Run a photocopier, scanner or fax machine for 2 ½ hours.
- Run a PC desktop for 8 hours.
- Run a wall mounted electric convector heater for 30 minutes.
- Run an electric cooker oven for 17 minutes.
- Run a power shower pumped from an immersion tank for 2 ¼ hours.
- Run one T8 fluorescent lamp for 31 hours, 15 minutes.
Two Swiss filmmakers chronicled the Carter solar panels’ fate in the film, “A Road Not Taken.” Watch the trailer: