Robert Claridge, president of Bobcat and Sun, Inc. of Bend, has installed a number of solar hot water systems throughout Central Oregon over the years. Yet despite the current prominence of solar energy and ways for reducing a home's carbon footprint, Claridge finds he still must address a number of myths about the installation and use of these solar systems.
For instance, a solar hot water system does not simply exist for heating water for hot baths and washing dishes. "A solar hot water system can also be used for space heating and infloor heating," Claridge said. "The sun is a powerful tool and a solar hot water system allows us to harness its energy to save both money and resources."
Below are three additional myths about solar hot water systems according to Claridge.
Myth #1: Solar Systems are Expensive
While the average residential solar hot water system can cost between $7500 - $9500, Claridge points out that federal, state, and utility incentives exist that can reduce this cost by more than 50 percent -- seriously reducing your out of pocket costs.
The State of Oregon, for instance, offers as tax incentive of up to $1500 for the installation of a solar hot water system. In addition, the federal government offers a tax incentive of up to 30 percent of the total cost of the system, and a utility cash incentive will reimburse the homeowner up to $1200 of the total cost.
"Bobcat & Sun is a Tax Credit Certified Technician (TCCT), which means we do all of the paperwork for you," Claridge said. "Our homeowner estimates for these systems reflect the actual cost of the project before and after the incentives are deducted."
Myth #2: Systems are Expensive to Service
According to Claridge, the existence of "advanced drainback technology" allows today's solar water heating systems to operate without requiring any regular service by a trained technician.
Such technology utilizes gravity that allows water in the collectors to drain back to the in-home tank when the system is not in use preventing fluid stagnation within the solar panels.
Myth #3: Return on Investment is Low
According to Claridge, homeonwers can calculate the average annual return-on-investment (ROI) of a solar hot water system by multiplying the size of a household by up to $125.
A family of four will save about $500 per year in energy costs," he said. "On a $5000 system (final cost after incentives), that's a 10 percent ROI the first year and every year thereafter. Not many other investments will give you that."
Claridge added that the typical system is built to last a minimum of 30 years.