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Solar Panels on the White House

Obama Administration Reinstalling System Scrapped by Reagan

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Solar Panels on the White House

President Obama appears in front of a bank of solar panels as he speaks about using Recovery Act funds to invest in solar energy.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Updated October 21, 2010

Sure, it's a longstanding tradition for new U.S. presidents to redesign the White House to suit their own tastes. But they often stick to just the aesthetics - you know, picking new furniture, putting up different draperies, peeling off old wallpaper and hanging new artwork.

The Obamas are taking the redesign a tad bit further, by having installing solar panels on the White House living quarters.

President Barack Obama, who made environmental issues a focus of his presidency, planned to install solar panels on the White House by spring of 2011. He also announced he will also install a solar hot water heater on top of the living quarters at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

See more: 5 Wacky Myths About Obama

"By installing solar panels on arguably the most famous house in the country, his residence, the president is underscoring that commitment to lead and the promise and importance of renewable energy in the United States," said Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Obama signed an executive order in 2009 demanding federal agencies become more environmentally friendly by 2020.

Administration officials said the solar panels on the White House will convert sunlight directly to electricity. The solar hot water heater will have a solar collector facing the sun that will heat water for use in the White House residence.

Administration officials said they expected the photovoltaic system will convert sunlight into 19,700 kilowatt hours of electricity a year.

According to The Associated Press, that would save a typical Washington, D.C.-area household $2,300 on its electricity bill. The solar hot water heating system could save an additional $1,000 a year.

Obama is not the first president to install solar panels on the White House. Jimmy Carter had 32 solar panels installed on the White House in 1979, but they were taken down in 1986 by Ronald Reagan.

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