Vermont Solar Consumer Guide: Solar Hot Water

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How it Works: Solar collectors on your roof transfer the sun’s heat into a liquid medium, which is then circulated through coils in a hot water holding tank, supplying or supplementing heat for showers, your sink, washing machines and more. Given proper siting and exposure to the sun, you can expect a two-collector solar hot water system to reduce your hot water bills by up to 70% a year1.

What it Costs

The average two-collector solar hot water system ranges between $9,000 -$12,000 with system design, equipment, and installation2. After the Incentive Rebate and Federal Tax Credit, this system can be as low as $5,400. Here’s how:

  1. 16% off the total cost with the Vermont Small Scale Renewable Energy Incentive Program: This standout program offers Vermont solar PV and hot water customers a cash rebate of approximately $450 per collector. Your installer will handle the paperwork, and simply deduct this amount from the overall price of the system, currently equal to approximately $900 off the total cost3.
  2. Another 30% off the total cost with the Federal Tax Credit for solar energy systems: The federal government offers a 30% Income Tax Credit for solar PV and hot water systems. Eligible homeowners and businesses with taxable income get 30% of the total system cost (in addition to the Incentive Program rebate) taken off their personal or business income tax return. This amounts to $2,700 for the lower system cost, and $3,600 at the higher system cost.
  3. Then it’s nearly free: After the system is paid off, your hot water will be next to free!

detail-solar-hot-H20Will it work at my house?

Homeowners and business owners can consult the Renewable Energy Atlas of Vermont, a dynamic and easy-to-use tool to help assess the potential for solar energy projects throughout the state. This tool will help you quickly gauge a rough estimate of how much sun resource is available at county, city, and individual address levels. You can also find other renewable energy projects and installations nearby, and view REV Member installers, manufacturers and other businesses.

What’s the Bottom Line?

$9,000 – 12,000 Gross cost of installed system
-$900
Vermont Small Scale RE Incentive (@ approx. $450 per collector)
$8,100 – 11,000
-$2,700 – 3,600
System owner may be eligible for a 2011 30% Federal ITC (individual tax credit, or investment tax credit for business).
$5,400 – 7,400 Final system cost

How to Get Started: Connect With a Local Partner Installer

Take advantage of the Incentive Program by hiring a Vermont Wind and Solar Program Partner. Solar Thermal Partners have proven experience and installation track records, and can quickly assess your home’s hot water needs and potential for solar thermal. Here’s how it will work:

  1. Search the REV listings of Partner Installers: Take a look at the REV map of Partner Solar Hot Water installers (coming soon!) for the closest installer to you, or search the REV Partner Directory. In the REV Partner Directory, enter your zipcode or town name. You’ll get a list of the closest installers to choose from.
  2. The solar installer comes and assess your home and solar potential at no obligation: The Partner installer will come out to your home and assess your hot water needs, as well as your home’s solar potential (the amount of sunshine that hits your home, among other factors). The Partner installer will then provide a written proposal outlining the appropriate system for your needs and what the rebated cost will be, at no obligation to you.
  3. You accept the proposal and place a deposit
  4. The installer files a permit application on your behalf with the Vermont Public Service Board
  5. Installation is scheduled; work on a typical two-panel system takes around 3-4 days.
  6. You’re going solar! You’re all plugged in and the meter is running backwards.

Want Solar PV? Go to the Vermont Solar Photovoltaic Guide

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Learn More About Solar at REV’s Solar Technology Page

Assess Your Solar Potential with the Renewable Energy Atlas of Vermont

Notes:
1
System performance varies depending on orientation of roof to true south, slope angle of roof, and any shading that your site may have. Typical performance for a two-collector roof top system in Vermont is 55 gallons of hot water on a peak summer day, and as little as 15 gallons on an average cloudy winter day.

2 Installed price of system on your house may vary due to material and warranty of the solar hot water storage tank, type and condition of your roof, length of piping and wiring runs, design of your existing hot water heating equipment, and where you have space available for new solar equipment.

3 See the RERC’s Vermont Small Scale Renewable Energy Incentive Program FAQ page for more details.

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