Posted by Phil Riggan - email
HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - You might see more solar panels on rooftops in your neighborhood soon - that's if your neighbors are anything like Matthew Brown, a green pioneer in Henrico County.
His house is undergoing an extreme green makeover.
"Not so much that I'm one of those green freaks," said Brown.
It's not unusual that he installed new insulation but what makes this home unique is the solar hot water and geothermal heat and a/c.
"As everybody knows the price of gas is going up and I have a feeling it won't stop going up," Brown said.
Matt's tired old hot water heater is still there but it's only a backup now. Water is now hot thanks to the power of the sun. It flows through tiny pipes on the roof and the sun's rays do the rest. Electricity powers the pump, but other than that, the hot water is free. Sitting in a storage tank until it's needed.
"You're not only saving the environment, you are saving money. You are saving your own personal green which is what I like," Brown said.
The solar heater can even work in cloudy weather but not if your house is shaded by large trees. While the sun heats his water, the earth heats and cools his air.
Piping replaces the noisy blower that traditional A/C units use. Instead of releasing heat into the air on hot summer days, that heat is dissipated into the ground. It's a technology that's been around for years.
"I'm not a green person but I am someone who believes if there's a way to use the planet without destroying it why not do it," Brown said.
It's been a hobby for Matthew over the past ten years - but the time is right for him to jump in. New tax incentives have finally made it worth his while.
"Any of these systems, you put in solar, geothermal they have a 30% tax credit. It takes that initial huge cost and takes a big chunk out of it," Brown said.
So now that 10-year green dream is finally a reality.
Tax credits are available for anyone to use - and they could be worth thousands of dollars. Sunny sites are best.