Green Marines: Military Buys into Solar


"Camp Lejeune is becoming the largest community in the U.S. to heat water with solar energy."

On the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base in North Carolina, large, reflective rectangles line the rooftops of some of the homes. They're solar panels for heating water.

So many of these panels have gone up in one neighborhood that the community is quickly becoming the largest in the continental U.S. to heat water with solar energy.

"It's kinda like a milestone in our history books for the Marine Corps, for the state of North Carolina and for the continental U.S.," Sgt. Kirk Paulsen says. "So I feel very proud of that that we're conserving it for our children's children's children."

Eventually solar panels will sit on top of 900 homes in this Camp Lejeune neighborhood.

The solar panels act like a greenhouse: They heat a fluid that runs down pipes inside the house and transfer the heat into a 40-gallon water tank with temperatures reaching 180 degrees.

Solar hot water is one of the most cost-effective ways to generate energy. Energy from the sun can heat three-quarters of the water used in a typical household.

It'll cost $6 million to hook up all 900 homes on base to solar water heaters. For the average civilian homeowner the out-of-pocket cost can run as much as $7,000. Paulsen and his wife, Jamie, have only had their solar water heater for a few weeks. But they say so far, there have been no surprise cold showers.

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