Is Now the Time for a New Solar Hot Water System?

Is Now the Time for a New Solar Hot Water System? 1

The number of solar homeowners in the District of Columbia today reach near a million.  The main reason DC residents have resorted to solar electrical was that the rebate program that’s been available through the DC Department of the surroundings.  While solar electrical installations have become commonplace and widely researched, you don’t hear a lot about solar hot water – until today. 

Is Now the Time for a New Solar Hot Water System? 2

Before this year, DC altered the rules of its solar energy rebate program to incorporate a solar hot water rebate equal to 20 percent of the machine’s price.  As there are no guarantees this lien will continue beyond 2012, many homeowners have a crash course in the basics of solar hot water — trying to determine whether to get in on the home before it disappears.  On June 25th, several Capitol Hill neighbors along with two solar hot water contractors placed a city-wide public meeting about solar hot water technology, installation costs and accessible subsidies.  Materials from the meeting are now offered at www.dcsun.org.  Below are some highlights, but more information can be found on the website.

To kick off the meeting, I provided a few photos of the new solar hot water program I had installed May 2012.  Like solar enthusiasts in the District, I began with solar electrical.  But , I made sure my contractor left enough space for after installation of solar hot water panels.  I managed to save a little cash on the solar hot water setup since the mounting supports for my own solar electric were pre-designed to likewise encourage the solar hot water panels. 

I can now test my new (quite large) solar hot water tank to observe how well the sun is doing — it’s been studying at approximately 120-140 degrees based on the time of day.  Goodbye showers!  My family adores the new system because I am not telling them about conserving enough warm water for all to shower.  My old (and little ) gas driven water tank is still intact as a backup, but especially in the summertime, we won’t need to fire that up at all.

Resident Capitol Hill solar professional, Andy Kerr, had a solar hot water system installed earlier this season.  He’s developed a nice presentation describing the initial price tag of his system, the rebates he was eligible for (the DC lien, a 30% Federal tax credit and the selling of solar renewable energy credits), along with the return on investment he expects out of his system.  Because solar hot water systems will need to be sized into the warm water demands you might need,

Andy has also developed a spreadsheet letting you punch in your own numbers to figure out the economics of solar hot water.  In his own casehe paid approximately $8,500, but with all the 3 rebates, his cost fell to approximately $3,000 — which works out to an 8 year simple payback, along with a 7.7percent return on investment over 20 years.

Andy’s calculations may get marginally better since DC SUN has established a partnership with two vendors, Solar Energy Services along with Clean Currents.  For each contract signed by DC SUN associates, the two businesses have generously offered to donate to DC SUN’s EmPowerment Fund which assists provide solar permits to low-income families.

Please take a look at the substances on the site and choose for yourself if solar hot water is going to be in your future.  As we suggested with solar electric installations, it is always a good idea to find a number of bids before jumping into a purchase.  If you are on the fence and want more time, we advise that you put your title to the list for a DC rebate while you are creating your decision.  Finally, please join our listserve in the DC SUN page, where you are able to post inquiries and help us start a new dialog on solar thermal.