NOTE: The economics of solar water heating have changed since this article. Solar Water Heating is Dead is an article that has more up to date information.
Solar water heating is by far the most efficient way to use solar energy in most homes. It always strikes me as strange that more systems are not installed in Southwest Florida. In some places like Hawaii, solar water heating is mandated for new residential construction. While I don’t think we have to go so far as to mandate installation through legislative means, it just makes great financial sense and it is common sense.
Why are so many people paying for an electric tank to store water heated by what amounts to an iron, and paying to keep it hot even when the water is not running? It’s like trying to heat your home with several hairdryers. It is wildly inefficient. Do you know that your water heater consumes 4,500 watts of power when heating water? That’s right – it’s like having over one hundred 40W light bulbs on at the same time!
The water heater sits in a closet, attic, or corner of the garage. It’s out of sight, and out of mind. There is something new that should make people take notice. Florida Power and Light is offering a $1,000 rebate toward the purchase of a solar water heating system! Tack on to that a 30% Federal Tax Credit, and there has never been a better time to install a solar water heater in Southwest Florida. As a result, solar water heating is heating up! We are seeing a huge increase in installations.
I’ve run into people with a strange love affair with their water heater. I get it… you just spent a bunch of money on a shiny new water heater that you expect to have for the next decade. You expect it to provide you with comfort and warmth. It’s like a pet. Fine – we can deal with that. There are solar water heating systems that can be retrofit to your existing tank.
Solar hot water is hot right now!