Solar Heat Helping Frenchtown Front Porch Community

An area woman is getting some much needed help with her utility bill while at the same time saving the environment. She's one of many Floridians living with a low or fixed income to begin saving money through the use of solar power.

Mariah Blake has lived in her home on Clay Street for 46 years now. She says it's difficult living on a fixed income and that's why she's so excited about the new addition to her home.

"It's very good, very good, and I'm thankful ‘cause every penny I save means I'll have a little more to give to the Lord," says Mariah.

"Pennies from heaven" is how she describes the money saved from her new solar powered water heating unit.

"The solar water heaters will take some of the load off of the utility demand putting less pollution into the air and also putting more money into the pocket of the homeowner," says Colleen M. Castille with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The system works as about 40 gallons of water from the residents’ pipes are heated inside the solar panel on the roof of the home. The heated water then goes down a pipe back into the home for usage, and on a rainy day or at night the old water heater automatically kicks in.

Jim Bellamy, part of the Frenchtown Front Porch Community, says, "I'm going to talk to the residents on the streets to see how many of them would be interested. You'd be surprised in the number of people that are kind of leery because most of them are older people and they have to be educated about how this would help them."

Research shows those using the solar power water heating system could save an average of about $20 on their monthly utility bill and they could actually save more depending on the time of day they use their hot water.