Solar power is coming to President Barack Obama's house.

The most famous residence in America plans to install solar panels. The solar panels are to be installed by spring 2011 atop the White House’s living quarters and will heat water and supply some electricity for the first family.

President Jimmy Carter speaks against a backdrop of solar panels at the White House Washington on June 21, 1979.
President Jimmy Carter speaks against a backdrop of solar panels at the White House Washington on June 21, 1979. Photo by Harvey Georges / AP

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush both tapped the sun during their days in the White House.

Carter in the late 1970s spent $30,000 on a solar water-heating system for West Wing offices. Bush’s solar systems powered a maintenance building, some of the mansion, and heated water for the pool.

Obama has championed renewable energy and will now lead by example by installing solar at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Something which has been under consideration since he first took office.

Putting solar on the roof of the nation’s most important piece of real estate is a powerful symbol.  Perhaps Americans will start to rethink how we generate electricity.