Wonderful 21st c. equivalent of barn-raising: building solar hot water systems together

In the 18th and 19th century, frontiers townspeople worked together to build neighbors’ barns, either for the first time, or for those who had the bad fortune of their barn burning down. Accounts here.


In a 21st century equivalent, townspeople in New England towns are scheduling energy raisers for the summer where volunteers come together to erect solar hot water systems for residents so they can save 80% on their fuel bills and help the environment at the same time.

“By eliminating labor costs, the New Hampshire group has been able to reduce the price from more than $10,000 for a conventionally installed system to as little as $3,000, organizers of the group say. Federal tax credits and local company rebates – such as those available in New Hampshire – can reduce the price even further, to as low as about $1,500, they say.”

In a nice variant on microcredit lending schemes, and building reciprocity into the approach, “…[n]eighbors who donated their labor at three energy raisers were eligible to have the technology installed at their own homes. Afterward, the neighbors would be expected to provide labor at additional energy raisers, to repay the favor.

Read Boston Globe story *Many hands make light work (groan!) of saving energy.*


2 responses to “Wonderful 21st c. equivalent of barn-raising: building solar hot water systems together

  1. Thanks for nice post.I added to my twitter.

  2. A great idea to reduce labor cost, like Habitat for Humanity’s “Sweat Equity”, and to build ownership of a green building technology.

    Curiously, in our area, labor cost now (2010) for a 1 day, 2 collector solar hot water installation is $30/hr for 3 man crew – 7.5 hrs – that is $750 labor – not $7000!

    A bigger use for lots of unskilled free labour in Green Building retrofits is removing interior wall drywall for extra spray foam insulation – no fall risk, just dirty, dusty, and lots of trips to the dumpster!

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