solar hot water panels on a rooftop

[From my post at CleanTechnica] So you want to take advantage of the sun’s energy somehow but solar photovoltaics just aren’t in the cards? Solar hot water systems may not be as sexy as their electron-producing counterparts, but in most scenarios, you will get more energy bang for your buck—especially if you’re on a budget—because water heating consumes the most energy in a home after space heating and cooling.

After being seen almost exclusively on the rooftops of Jimmy Carter-era homes, solar hot water panels have made substantive advances in recent years, including efficiency improvements, earning some manufacturers the coveted Energy Star label.

With that in mind, Oncor Electric Delivery of Texas has announced a $2 million incentive program for solar water heaters, paying residential customers between $600 and $1,500, depending on the size and performance of the newly installed systems. A new solar hot water system costs about $8,000 for an average American home.

The North Texas utility expects to install about 1,100 new solar systems over the next four years. Only homes currently using electric water heating systems in the Oncor service area are eligible.

Along with a host of state and local incentives for solar hot water systems; as well as a new federal tax credit of 30 percent of new qualifying systems, utility rebate programs like these are making solar energy viable for even the tightest of budgets.

Image: CC licensed by flickr user JoePhoto

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