If you need to buy a new water heater, or if you are tired of high gas bills, there is no better time to compare solar hot water heaters to gas hot water heaters. Heating water accounts for a large part of your home energy costs, over 50 percent in some circumstances, so finding a more cost-effective way to heat water can save you a considerable amount of money over time. You may also be interested in making a more positive impact on the environment. Home energy costs are also a major contributor to greenhouse gases that threaten our environment. While a solar water heater may not be the answer for you, it is certainly worth the time to determine if it is a better option than a gas hot water heater.
Yes, sunlight is free for all, but you have to purchase and install your solar energy system and this initial investment is rather large. A gas hot water heater will probably cost you around $500 and the installation is simple. With a solar water heater, the investment is much larger for the system and the installation is more complicated. The unit is larger and roofing work is generally required, so hiring a professional is the smart way to go. The investment in the system alone will be anywhere from $1,000 to as much as $3,500 depending upon the complexity of the system. Installation can easily be double that, and if there are major issues involved that require extensive renovating, you may pay as much as $10,000 on the installation and renovating of your home to implement the system.
Incentives for Solar Water Heating
While the upfront investment is much larger, you can usually get that money back in the long term. Part of this will come from the savings on your utility bill, but there are other incentives. It can increase the value of your home, netting you more money if and when you decide to sell. In addition to federal rebates, you may also qualify for state and local grants, rebates and/or tax incentives to cover a portion of the cost.
Location is Important
If you live in a sunny climate and your home is situated so that it can collect optimal sunlight, you will have more reason to go with solar water heating versus a gas hot water heater. There is much more solar energy available to you to increase savings on electric bills and your carbon footprint will be reduce even more as you will have to rely less on non-renewable fuels to heat your water. You will still want to have a gas or electric water heater backup in case there is the solar water heater fails or there is not enough sunlight to produce the energy needed to meet your hot water needs.
Utility Bill Savings
Depending on your energy usage habits and the climate where you live, you can cut your utility bill drastically. A really sunny location may allow you to cut your bill by as much as 85 percent. Less sunny locations, or shaded locations, and you may see only a 25 percent reduction in your monthly fuel costs. You can expect to save more in the summer, when usage is higher and more sunlight to provide energy. The winter months, especially if you live in a cold climate, you can expect to rely more on a gas water heater as a backup.
Reduced Carbon Footprint—Better for the Environment
If you are considering a solar water heater, the environment is probably on your mind. A solar water heater can drastically cut your home’s CO2 emissions. Depending on energy usage and how much you can take advantage of your solar resources, you can reduce the carbon footprint of your home by 20 to 30 percent just with the installation and use of a solar hot water heater.