The Great Oak Common House has a Solar Hot water system installed to augment our natural gas burning hot water heater. The system produces “clean” energy using the sun and reduces our dependence on our natural gas supplier DTE. Details about the installation are available on our CH Solar Hot Water webpage. The system has been operational for over a year now. Our original estimates showed that we should expect on average to produce the equivalent of about 144 ccF of natural gas and if the price of natural gas remained constant, that should be about a $144 that isn’t paid to DTE. At that rate, it would take about 26 years to pay off the initial investment.

From September 1, 2005 through September 30, 2006, the system has produced in excess of 200 ccF and reduced our DTE bill by over $280! so we’re doing about twice as well as anticipated in terms of payback time, and that doesn’t even highlight the pollution we’re reducing.

According to’s calculator burning 200 ccF of natural gas will spew approximately 1.18 tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and offsetting that in a carbon market will yield anywhere from $6 to $16 at current rates.

CH SDHW collectors

Our solar hot water system produces clean energy, even in sunshine-poor Michigan, and even saves the community money by being independent of ever-rising natural gas prices.