East-enders urged to soak up the sun

Offered incentives to install solar hot water heaters


A new City of Toronto program will make it easier for Toronto houses to heat their water systems with solar energy. Play VideoIn an ongoing battle against climate change, City Hall is encouraging some east-enders to harness the power of the sun.

The city yesterday launched Solar Neighbourhoods, a pilot project that will offer a $1,000 discount to 150 homeowners -- located in the area bounded by the lake and Danforth, Coxwell and Bayview Aves. -- to install solar hot water heaters.

Coupled with existing federal and provincial financial incentives -- totalling $2,500, plus a federal tax credit of up to $1,000 -- rebates will leave eligible homeowners paying about half the tab for a solar hot water heater.

After government rebates, a homeowner will pay up to $6,000 for the environmentally friendly water heaters.

"My ward's pretty green and it's going to get greener," said a grinning Councillor Paula Fletcher, who represents Ward 30 -- the area targeted for the solar project.

"We're catching up. We're going to be the North American leader here, and I think that's the thrilling piece."

This year alone, city officials are hoping 1,300 homeowners outside Fletcher's ward will install solar water heaters -- even without the city's grant.

According to city numbers, the average family of four could save up to 50% on water heating costs with solar technology.

"Torontonians are eager to help in the fight against climate change," Toronto Mayor David Miller said yesterday.

"By making these kinds of renewable energy technologies easy for city residents to access, we can continue to be a world leader."

Anyone wanting one of the water heaters must have solar panels installed on the southern part of their roof.

A conventional water heater is also required as a backup when it is cloudy or on cold days in the winter.

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