“Solar hot water is the simplest and, in many circumstances, the most cost-effective method of using the sun’s power for household purposes, making it the best way to make large, easy savings in most household power bills” The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery
We have lived with solar water heaters for about fifteen years now and we love them. They make a LOT of hot water free. This is probably the best first step for a solar installation as we believe you get the most return for your money with a water heater. Our old gas heater had reached the end of its life and we replaced it with a solar heater. We have an electric backup but seldom use it. By adding a solar water heater we eliminated all of a monthly $100 bill for water heating. That’s a savings of $1200 a year for the 20 years we have owned houses with solar water heaters or a cost offset of $24,000.
You can see in the photo that we installed the system before we replaced the roof. While that does not seem logical at first glance we had our reasons. Firstly, we wanted to get the $1500 federal tax credit by installing before the end of the tax year and we did not have the money to do our roof replacement. So, knowing that we would have to remove the roof panel and reinstall it we went ahead. It has worked out fine because we got the $1500 federal tax credit and the $500 cash rebate from the state making it a good deal that pays for itself in three to four years.
This is the 80 gallon tank in our garage. There is a small pump that is energized by a small photovoltaic panel attached to the collector panel on the roof. The more the sun shines the more water it pumps through the system. We have only had the electric backup on for a few days out of the last six months. It feels good knowing we are saving $100 a month by not heating our water with gas or electricity. A solar water heater is surely the first thing anyone interested in going solar should install.