City Installs Solar Hot Water System Through Housing Program

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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City Installs Solar Hot Water System Through Housing Program

Posted: 08/10/2010
A family of five will have a lower utility bill because their new home includes a solar hot water system. A contractor recently finished installing the first of what the Community Development Department hopes will be many solar hot water heaters in houses the City of Knoxville helps build or renovate.

The replacement home on East Glenwood Avenue includes a Rheem SolPak solar water heating system. The system uses heat from the sun to heat water needed for everything from cleaning dishes to bathing.

In the summer the system should take care of nearly all the home's hot water needs and will preheat water in winter reducing the amount of electricity needed to power the home's conventional water heater.

The decision to employ solar technology in a house the city was helping build was a natural outgrowth of Community Development's goals in helping low and moderate-income families replace or renovate substandard homes.

"The city is committed to Energy Star certification and energy efficiency in all the homes we help our clients build," said Madeline Rogero, Director of the Community Development Department, "and with Knoxville being selected as a Solar America City we wanted to explore and promote solar technology."

"We felt like solar hot water heaters were something that makes sense and wanted to learn more about them and this was our first run," said Tim Dimick, Housing Manager. He added, "So it's a way to support solar technology in Knoxville while reducing energy bills of our clients and air pollution in our community."

Community Development builds or renovates about 30 houses each year through its Owner Occupied Housing Rehabilitation Program - which offers low-interest loans and other assistance to qualified low-and-moderate income families to replace or renovate substandard housing. Funds are provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The home on the 2400 block of Glenwood was a replacement for the family's previous home. Favorably situated for solar panels, it became the test model for Community Development. The Knoxville-Knox County CAC's Construction Services was the contractor on the project and Lyons Plumbing installed the solar hot water system. The homeowners will make regular mortgage payments to pay off the funds used in the construction of their home.

The solar hot water system uses a pair of flat solar collectors on the roof that heat a glycol solution which then transfers that heat to water in a holding tank. The system is expected to reduce the energy needed to produce hot water by 50-90 percent depending on factors like where the home is located and the amount of hot water used in the household.

"There are five family members in that house and the solar hot water system payback will be quicker on a larger household because they use more hot water," Dimick said.

The system cost $4,950 with the installation included and it qualified for a federal tax credit of 30% of the cost (including installation/labor costs)

Dimick said the city will monitor the system to see what kind of real-world savings it generates on the family's energy bills and how long it will take for the savings to match the cost of the system.

Modern Supply Company will host a workshop on installing solar water heating systems from 9 a.m. until noon on September 1 at its store at 525 Lovell Road. For more information about the workshop or to register, please contact Jake Tisinger at 865-215-2065 or

More information about the Community Development's housing programs is available at and you can learn more about the City of Knoxville's Solar America Cities program at

To see the new system or speak with the owners, please contact Tim Dimick at 865-215-2887.