Oh how we love our hot water! We need it for showers (unless you’re a cold-shower person), dishwashers, washing machines, etc. But heating the water for your home is actually more costly than people might expect – not only for your budget, but for the environment, as well.
So let’s say you want to save a little money and get a little “greener”. Here’s a solution you may not have thought about: solar water heaters.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Traditional water heaters put a heavy burden on the environment. Most people think of cars and other forms of transportation as the general population’s greatest detriment to the environment, but gas, electric and tankless water heaters actually produce as much, if not more, CO2 than an automobile. E-magazine EarthTalk breaks it down like this: The average electric water heater needs 6,400 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. Based on this stat, they go on to say that the average electric water heater would then emit about eight (8!) tons of carbon dioxide annually, which doubles most automobiles.
With all the time we’ve spent as a society worrying about cars and fuel efficiency over the past 10 years, it seems like it’s about time we start looking into this water heater problem.
Solar Water Heaters Are Cost Efficient
The actual unit for a gas or electric water heaters may be cheaper from the outset (ranges from $150 to $450 for a standard water heater), but in the long run you are paying heavily for the rising cost of electricity and natural gas costs. Solar water heaters cost anywhere from $1,500 to $3,500 on your initial purchase, but you because you are using sustainable, renewable energy (energy that is free!), the money you save on gas and electric bills will be astronomical. According to the Consumer Energy Center, the average solar heating system pays for itself in four to seven years.
Also, and this could be the best part, the U.S. government offers homeowners tax credits of up to 30 percent (with a $2,000 cap) to offset the cost of installing a solar water heating system. This credit does not, though, count toward swimming pool or hot tub heaters.
Check out this handy little program from the government to check out which benefits are available to you.
A Few Things To Consider
It sounds nice, right? Save money in the long run, and make an immediate impact on the environment. But there are a few things to consider before diving into the solar water heater market.
Is your home or building a good site for a solar system? Let’s say you live in some place that is overcast or rainy year round – this does not mean you cannot have a solar system. There are many different types of solar water heating systems available for all different types of climates.
What are your community standards for the installation of solar water heaters? If you have it installed outside of your local code, you may have to re-install your system, taking more money out of your pocket. There are also other standards that you may need to consider if you live outside the United States.
Diane Kuehl is a freelance writer and “green living” advocate. She lives on her farm in Springfield, Illinois with her husband and two kids.