Why Solar Thermal Makes Sense For Your California Home

By Alaina Brandenburger

For many people, heating water can be a costly expense. Between showering, laundry, dishes and other chores, water heating costs can add up. Your costs can be affected by whether or not you’re using a gas or electric water heater. Recently, many homeowners have discovered that using solar thermal energy to heat water may save them money, and it is beneficial to the environment. In addition, there are opportunities to receive tax incentives or rebates for switching to solar thermal water heating. Check out the following information and find out why you should consider making the switch.

It Can Lower Your Energy Costs
Since solar thermal water heating systems rely on the energy from the sun, they don’t primarily use gas or electricity. The system is coupled with a traditional water heater, which becomes a backup for heating water when no sunlight is available. As such, they typically lower the energy bills of homeowners. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “On average, if you install a solar water heater, your water heating bills should drop 50%–80%.

You May Be Eligible for Tax Credits or Other Incentives
In California, many people are currently trying to take steps to reduce their impact on the environment and many local and federal agencies and utilities companies have been offering tax incentives that encourage them to do so. By installing qualified equipment, homeowners may be able to take advantage of some of these incentives. Eligible homeowners can receive a rebate of up to $4,366 when switching to heating water with the sun.

It’s More Green
An attractive feature of solar thermal water heating is that it is more eco-friendly than traditional water heating systems. Solar thermal water heating systems are not intended to replace your current heating system – they supplement it. The equipment is installed outdoors, and water travels through tubes where it is heated by the solar panels. The heated water then moves to a storage tank where it is stored. With this system, your current water heater serves as a back up, so you can still have hot water when the sun isn’t shining on the panels. However, the sun becomes the primary method of heating water, which reduces your energy use.

Incentives Can Only Be Claimed With Qualifying Equipment
As with most home appliances and ventilation, not all solar thermal equipment is equal, proper installation and conditions are necessary in order for the system to work properly. In order to qualify for tax incentives, you need to work with an eligible approved contractor. To find an approved contractor, check out the SoCalGas® website.

If you are interested in potential savings on your monthly energy bills, and possibly qualifying for tax incentives, you should consider solar thermal water heating. The equipment and installation costs can be pricey, but you could be eligible for a rebate and tax credit that will help offset the cost. In an area like Southern California, which averages over 280 sunny days per year, it is possible that your solar thermal system will be heating most of your water.

This program is funded by California utility customers and administered by regional program administrators under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission. Program funds, including any funds utilized for rebates or incentives, will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis until such funds are no longer available. This program may be modified or terminated without prior notice. The selection, purchase, and ownership of goods and/or services are the sole responsibility of customer. SoCalGas makes no warranty, whether express or implied, including the warranty of merchantability or fitness for a purpose, of goods or services selected by customer. Customers who choose to participate in this program are not obligated to purchase any additional goods or services offered by contractor or any other third party. SoCalGas does not endorse, qualify, or guarantee the work of any contractor or other third party. Consult your tax professional for specific details of federal tax credits and location incentives for solar water heating. Eligibility requirements apply; see the program conditions for details.
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