Heating water is a major part of home energy needs. It is estimated that 50 to 75 percent of an average home’s utility bill is devoted to heating water. For this reason alone, it is worth looking into alternatives to lower your water heating energy usage. If a solar water heater can reduce your utility bill as well as reduce the environmental impact of your home, you have the motivation to seek out more information as to whether or not a solar water heater is right for you.
What Does a Solar Water Heater Cost?
A solar water heating system will cost between $1,000 and $3,500, so there is a substantial upfront investment. There are also the costs of installation, possible significant remodeling of your home to make use of the system, and any needed permits. The overall investment can easily become $5,000 to $10,000 depending on where you live and what is necessary for complete installation.
Are There Rebates or Tax Incentives for Using a Solar Water Heater?
The federal government offers a rebate and many states do as well. The amount will depend on a variety of factors. Some states and local governments offer sales tax exemptions and property tax reductions for those with solar water heaters in their homes. Some states even offer grants for homeowners choosing a solar water heater. This may mean they will pay a percentage of the costs or a flat amount. For instance, Massachusetts offers a grant of up to $3,500 to qualifying homeowners for purchasing and installing solar water heaters in their homes.
What is the Environmental Impact of a Solar Water Heater
Residential home water heaters are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Many experts believe that CO2 emissions of residential water heaters are roughly equal to that of all passenger vehicles in the U.S. Solar water heaters release zero greenhouse gases. One solar water heater over a 20 year period is estimated to save over 50 tons of CO2. A solar water heater can reduce your home’s overall CO2 emissions by 20 to 40 percent.
What Happens if My Solar Water Heater Fails
Most solar water heaters have an electric or gas backup in case the solar water heater fails or does not produce enough energy to heat your needed water supply. If you live in very overcast areas that do not receive a lot of sunlight, such as the New England states, you may need the gas or electric backup in the winter months. If live in sunny Arizona, you will probably never need the gas/electric backup unless there are needed repairs on your solar heating unit.
How Much Do I Save on Energy Costs?
A solar water heater will require a much greater upfront investment than other types of water heaters, but you will see savings down the road. The energy savings each month quickly add up and pay for the large up-front investment. The initial costs and monthly energy savings will determine your break-even point. If you live in especially sunny areas, you can save as much as 90 percent on your water heating energy. You can generally make the initial investment back in 6 to 15 years. A solar water heating system is generally rated to last anywhere from 20 to 30 years. That means in the final 5 to 24 years of usage, you reap the total amount of energy savings from your solar water heating system.