By Wyldon King Fishman
New York started out with $3.6 million in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) fund. Upstate farms benefitted from the lion’s share of the RGGI millions. Residential solar thermal hot water cuts energy usage, is easy to hook up and costs less than solar electric or photovoltaics (PV). Pool owners jumped on the bandwagon early on and pool heating with the sun takes the worry out of extending the season for swimming. Free hot water makes sense.
Apartments, hotels, senior living centers, dormitories, Laundromats and sports clubs use more hot water than many businesses. Solar hot water system incentives went up and down and then they came and went. The equipment installed years ago works and keeps proving the technology works well. Way before PV electric systems, solar hot water was the only game in town. It was cheap and easy.
Solar hot water (“SHW”) isn’t the darling of Wall Street. There are no phone rooms and salespeople quoting Google Earth statistics for your home. But there is storage and, technically, it is a battery. The super-insulated tank full of very hot water can hold the temperature over night. It stores solar energy. It gives the energy back to you when you’re getting ready for the day. Click on the dishwasher or put a load in the clothes washer and your own personal heat storage sends hot water right where you need it.
Here’s a rule of thumb. An average domestic hot water system will wind up costing the consumer $2–3,000.00 after tax credits and rebates. The federal investment tax credit is due to expire at the end of 2016. Take advantage of the opportunity before it disappears. NY offers the 25% tax credit, too.
Space: a family needs one fifth of the roof space compared to what PV electric wold take. If you have been told you do not have enough sun for solar electric, you may be able to get solar thermal and the good news is that it’s a lot less expensive than PV electric.
Two hundred days each year there is plenty of sun to collect. If you want to make hot water, make it with the sun. Do the math. Money on the roof is better than money in the bank. NY needs an easy, consistent financing method for green energy projects.
Wyldon King Fishman is the founder and president of the New York Solar Energy Society (NYSES).