HR-032016-Alternate-Energy-2You’ve made a substantial investment in your air conditioning and solar energy systems, and they’ve been working hard all year. Spring is a great time to give your photovoltaic, solar hot water and air conditioning systems a boost with some simple preventative maintenance.

PV Panels

Dirt and dust can interfere with your PV panels’ productivity. Typically, in mountain and windward areas, dust is washed off by rain, but in plains areas like Ewa or Kapolei, you might want to contact a solar panel cleaning professional. They’ll know how to clean the panels using proper procedures to maintain the manufacturer warranties. To ensure that your panels are working at maximum capacity, check your system’s production online regularly.

Solar Water Heaters

Solar water heating systems occasionally do require professional repair. “If you see water leaking from the tank, pipes, panels or pressure release valve, it’s time to call a professional,” said director of marketing Mike Ito. Alternate Energy Inc. (AEI) recommends a full professional maintenance every three to five years. This can extend the life of your system up to 20 years. By the way, now is a great time to schedule this service. Hawaii Energy currently has a $150 maintenance rebate available (see
Even if you don’t opt for a yearly professional maintenance, AEI recommends that you do an annual system flush. Think about it: each year thousands of gallons of cold water enter your hot water heater, carrying tiny amounts of rust and sediment. “This is a simple process that anyone can do,” said Ito. “Just attach a hose to the drain valve, then open the valve and remove a couple quarts of water. When the water runs clear (which should only take a minute or two), you’re done.”

Air Conditioning

Regular cleaning and maintenance will keep your manufacturer warranties intact, ensure that your unit is running efficiently, and save on cooling costs. Cleaning the filters in your indoor blowers also can minimize asthma and dust problems. AEI installs and services Mitsubishi Electric ductless coolers, “but there are some great do-it-yourself filter cleaning videos on YouTube,” said Ito. “Most of our customers find it surprisingly easy.” Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable cleaning your multi-split units yourself, call AEI to get a professional cleaning.
For more information on purchasing, installing or servicing renewable or ultra-efficient home energy systems, call AEI at 842-5853 or visit

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