The solar water heating system in Georgia is one of the few renewable energy products that pays for itself with savings in a reasonable timeframe thanks to the tax incentives in place. The incentives are incredible and are applied to both the cost of the system and the cost of the install. You’ll get 30% Federal rebate, 35% State rebate (until money allotted for the year runs out), and $199 back from Energy Star.
How does it work? In a nutshell, the system comes with a highly insulated 80 gallon tank with a backup electric component in case you run out of solar heated water. Generally, the sun will heat 70-80% of your hot water. The panels on the roof capture the sun’s energy and a glycol solution runs through a copper tube down to the interior of the tank and coils 120ft around the tank heating the water inside it. It’s a very cool system and is manufactured right here in Athens, GA.
Heating your water takes 10-25% of your energy bill (gas or electric dependant on what kind of water heater you have). If your average bill is $400, you are probably paying $60/mo to heat your water for showering, laundry, dishwasher, etc. The solar water heater should knock out $45/mo so let’s calculate our break-even time.
The up front cost ranges from $5,000-$6,500 after install dependant upon how much hot water you use in your home. Even for the largest residential system, you’re looking at $2,075 after the rebates and before tax. So lets add 7% tax to the purchase of the unit so the net cost is $2425. Divide $2425 by $45/mo and you’ll break even in 53mos or just under 4.5yrs. The system is very durable, comes with a 10yr warranty, and should last 20-30yrs. Whenever the sun is out, the system is producing hot water even in the winter. Average electric water heaters uses an equivalent of 11 barrels of oil over the course of one year. Power Partners solar basics: A solar water heater uses zero oil unless the backup kicks in which is only when all the solar heated water is used up. Even the pump that pumps the fluid from the panels to the water heater is powered by a solar panel. We’re talking zero emissions. This is good stuff.
Make sure not to confuse this system with lesser expensive solar tankless water heaters which run for about $600 before install. The solar tankless is a nice idea but you only have solar heated water when it’s sunny out since there is no tank to store the heated water. In other words, if you shower at night or wash clothes or dishes at night, you’re just using a gas or electric backup tank which doesn’t save you any money or reduce emissions at all.