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Photo of a woman placing towels in a washing machine.

A student from the 2002 University of Maryland team washes towels for the Hot Water contest.

Solar Decathlon 2005

Hot Water

(100 Points)

Heating water with the sun is one of the easiest and least expensive solar energy technologies a homeowner can install to save money. In fact, a typical solar hot water system installed in a house today can reduce the need for conventional water heating by about two-thirds.

The Solar Decathlon teams will install systems that can do even more. The Hot Water contest demonstrates that solar hot water heating systems can supply all the hot water we use daily — to bathe and cook, and to run the dishwasher and washing machine.

Teams will be required to simulate an average-length shower twice a day, as well as to supply the hot water needed for the Appliances contest (clothes and dish washing).

Teams can score points in the Hot Water contest by successfully completing the "shower tests," which entails delivering 15 gallons of hot water in 10 minutes or less. They will also be judged on how innovative the hot water system is, and the system's ability to deliver sufficient hot water throughout the year, including when guests visit.