Florida Provides Solar Water Heaters to Low-Income Homeowners

December 16, 2003

Photo of garage with solar collector on the roof.
Florida's Front Porch Sunshine program will install 150 solar hot water heaters on the roofs of homes belonging to participating low-income families in 2004. (Credit: Florida Solar Energy Center)

Front Porch Florida is going solar. Florida Governor Jeb Bush announced on December 6 the installation of the second of 150 solar water heaters on the homes of underserved communities throughout the state. This second solar heating system is located on a home in Gainesville and is part of the Front Porch Florida initiative launched by the Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity in 1999 to revitalize underserved, low-income communities. By adding solar heaters to the initiative, Florida becomes the first state in the country to provide install energy technology on weatherized, low-income homes.

Bush said about the Front Porch Sunshine program, "Energy conservation protects the environment and saves money. Extending the environmental and economic benefits of conservation to Florida's neediest citizens improves our quality of life and strengthens our communities." Florida has targeted seven homes in Gainesville to receive solar hot water systems. The state installed the first system in October on a home in Pensacola as part of this program, which is the brainchild of the governor.

The Florida Energy Office has contracted with the Florida Solar Energy Research and Education Foundation in Longwood to manage and the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa to provide technical assistance to the new program, which is dubbed Front Porch Sunshine.

In order to qualify, the homes have to have been weatherized — been tested and had their energy efficiency improved by participating in the state's Weatherization Assistance Program (partially sponsored by DOE). They also must lie in designated communities targeted by Front Porch Florida for revitalization.

The Front Porch Sunshine program is building the Florida's experience in Hernando and Sumpter Counties in the center of the state that provided low-income households with solar hot water heaters in the 1990s. The results showed that solar heaters are well suited to low-income programs because, like weatherization, they permanently reduce the utility bills of the families receiving the systems.

For more about the program, see the Florida Department of Environmental Protection December 6 press release.