How Much Can you Save with a Solar Water Heater?

Water bills take up more than 15 percent of the average homeowner’s monthly utility bills. Making up such a significant portion of your bills, it’s no wonder that millions of homeowners around the country are turning to solar water heaters to save money and protect the environment. Solar water heaters use solar energy to heat the water before it goes to the water heater. This reduces energy usage and releases less carbon dioxide, protecting both your family and the environment. But how much can you save with a solar water heater?

The Savings of a Solar Water Heater

It sounds crazy, but a solar water heater can reduce your energy bills by more than 50 percent. The exact savings depend on how much water you use, the availability of the solar resource (your location), and the system’s performance. Many water heater companies and even utility companies offer incentives and financing options that make solar water heaters even more affordable. Whether you save on installation, equipment, or you receive a financial incentive from your energy company, it increases your overall savings. When you determine your savings, look at the total cost of the solar water heater. On average, homeowners pay $3,500, but they can go up as high as $5,000 or more. When determining how much you’ll save, figure out your solar  heater  payback period or the time needed to pay back the purchase and installation costs. Once you pay back the  cost of the heater and installation, you reap the savings, which is like getting free hot water, thanks to the sun’s energy.

How Long Does a Solar Water Heater Last?

Solar water heaters last as long as 20 years (sometimes longer). The gas and electric counterparts last between 8 and 10 years on average. To determine your payback period and/or the savings you’ll earn, consider:

  • Your hot water usage per month • The cost to refuel your water heater (call your local utility company) • The unit’s efficiency • How much water you’ll use during nighttime hours (using grid energy)
  • The expected life expectancy of the unit

Are Solar Water Heaters Worth the Investment?

Whether a solar heater is worth it for you depends on many factors. For example, if most of your water usage is at nighttime, you won’t gain much from the solar water heater and your payback period will be much longer. If, on the other hand, most of your hot water usage is during the daytime and you’ll save 50 percent or more on your utility bills, you can quickly recoup the cost of the heater, making the purchase well worth it. Price the equipment based on the size and needs of your household and talk to your utility company about the savings you’ll earn. You may be surprised at how much energy you’ll save over just a few short years. If you plan on staying in your home for the long-term, a solar water heater can be a great investment.