Hawaii Leads the Way In More Ways Than One

We have a new law here in Hawaii that will require all newly-built residential homes to have solar water heaters. Rough estimates are this requirement, which takes effect in 2010, will add about $5000 to the cost of each new home. The upside, of course, is that homeowners will save many times that amount over the years in the form of lower electricity bills.

The cost of electricity has been going up and up here. Our electric bill for an average-size three-bedroom, two-bath home is now running about $250 a month, nearly double what it was two to three years ago. That’s a swat, too, because we have neither heat nor air conditioning in our home. A small wood-burning stove in our living room takes the chill off on the occasional nippy winter morning and ceiling fans in every room are all we need to keep cool in summer.

Everything else is going up, too. For example, regular unleaded gas is selling for $4.28 a gallon here on Maui this morning. I’ll bet we lead the nation with that, too!

Hawaii residents are used to paying premium prices for just about everything. Shipping costs are the reason for most of that. We are, after all, living in the most remote populated spot on the globe. Everything has to be shipped in from at least 2300 miles away. And much of that stuff arrives in Honolulu and then has to be sent along by barge to those of us living on one of the Neighbor Islands. Most folks here just shrug it off as “the Price of Paradise.”

But … would I trade this spot for someplace on the mainland with lower electric bills? Not a chance. Not a snowball’s chance on Napili Beach!