To the editor:
Thanks for the fascinating article, "How Green Can You Get?" [May 3], about the Center for Green Technology and its array of energy-saving and environmentally sound technologies. But it's surprising that the article omits any discussion of solar thermal-energy systems that directly produce hot water and heat.
Solar hot-water systems have been operating throughout the Chicago area for more than 20 years. These systems can provide 75 percent of your hot-water needs and 30 percent of your heat. This is the most cost-effective way to use solar energy. Payback periods can be very short, especially with the 50 percent state of Illinois subsidies now available. For businesses that use a lot of hot water--for example, laundries--if you don't have a solar hot-water system, you're just throwing money away.
If you want to save money on energy, the first thing is to conserve energy and use it more efficiently. For example, a high-efficiency furnace or refrigerator will pay for itself very quickly. Next, look at solar thermal systems. The technology is simple, reliable, proven, and it's been in use here in Chicago for decades. (Unless, of course, you like sending money to the gas and electric companies. That would be a strange perversion indeed--something to write to Dan Savage about.)