Solar saving Jamaican BusinessesJuly 26, 2012

Portmore Salon goes solar to reduce high energy bills

JAMAICA  – Ultimate U Salon owner Meesha Geohagen in Portmore St. Catherine has to heat about  185 gallons of water daily for use in her hair salon and run the air conditioners non-stop during her operation to keep her customers cool.

Now, instead of running her electrical water heater  Meesha will be able to maintain a water temperature of about 110 degrees and room temperature at desired levels without the high power bills associated with doing so.

Ultimate U Salon in Portmore Mall has become the first business in the area to install a solar panel heating system to draw the heat of the sun into a water tank and to assist with cooling her business.

“I was looking for a way to conserve on energy all year round,” she said. “Carisol provided a solution.”

“I have done away with my electrical heater and i still have all the hot water the salon need available through the sun without having to spend a cent in light bill cost and have install these solar hybrid air conditioners to even lower my current bills,” said Meesha, who has several hair  stylists and barber working in the salon.

The idea has already elicited interest from other local businesses in the area who came to look at the energy saving systems in operation.

Meesha can expect a payback on her investment within one year with a savings of approximately 50% on the energy bills.

Kemar of Caribbean Solar Energy Co. Ltd., who installed the units, said they estimates Meesha will save 100% on her water heating cost all year round and up to 80% on  her cooling cost during the  the summer and up to 65-70% during the other seasons.

With the installation of the solar water heater and the solar air conditioning system, she can maintain the water temperature at 110 degrees even if the sun isn’t shining and room temperature at extremely comfortable levels with just hours of sunlight, he said.

The initial price of between $100,000 and $120,000 for the units can seem costly, but for someone like Meesha, who was paying in excess of that amount to the local utilities the payoff is well worth it, Kemar said.

“People will invest their money if they can see the returns and in these cases return is always easily seen in dollar savings,” he said.

Kemar said he has installed fifteen solar air conditioner units in the area already and is working on his sixteenth and seventeenth today, but Ultimate U is the first commercial application in the area.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “she tells me that she is very elated with savings she has been getting since the installation of the solar water heating unit on her salon over the last couple of months and now is looking forward to the greater saving she will be seeing with the newly installed solar air conditioners.

“It’s a good feeling; drawing your energy from the sun,” Kemar said.