- About MassCEC
- About Clean Energy
- Catalyst Program
- Commercial-Scale Biomass Boilers
- Commonwealth Hydropower
- Commonwealth Organics-to-Energy
- Commonwealth Small Pellet Boiler Program
- Commonwealth Solar Hot Water
- Commonwealth Solar II
- Commonwealth Wind
- Community Energy Strategies
- District Energy
- Geothermal Heating and Cooling
- Investments in the Advancement of Technology
- Investments in Job Creation
- Massachusetts Clean Energy Internship Program
- Massachusetts Israel Innovation Partnership
- New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal
- Pathways Out Of Poverty
- Production Tracking System
- Solarize Mass
- Woodstove Change-Out
- Workforce Capacity Building
- Wind Technology Testing Center
About Solar Hot Water
Solar hot water technology is becoming increasingly popular in Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) can provide grant money to help with installation costs.
A solar hot water system might work for your home or business if:
- You use hot water on a daily basis.
- You want to lower the fuel cost for your water heater (particularly if you own an electric or oil-fueled water tank).
- You want to decrease your energy dependence on fossil fuels.
- You want to use clean energy in your home or business.
Solar hot water systems reduce the usage of traditional water heating fuels, such as oil, electricity, or natural gas, and thereby reduce the amount you spend purchasing these fuels.
The following are important factors that affect the economics of a solar hot water system:
- Installation Costs: The upfront cost of equipment and labor to install your system. To familiarize yourself with residential project costs, please see the Commonwealth Solar Hot Water program’s Awarded Project Database.
- Fuel type offset: The cost of your current energy source for space and water heating is an important consideration in determining the payback of a solar hot water system.
- Overall System Use: Buildings with high hot water and space heating demands are potential sites for solar hot water systems.
- Proper System Design: Systems should be un-shaded and face generally south in order to maximize sun exposure. Systems should use certified equipment that is properly sized to meet the building’s specific heating load.
|Fuel Type Offset by Solar Hot Water*||Savings/Yr||Payback|
|*Numbers based on average family home size and installer estimates, and may not reflect the savings or payback of your specific system.|
|Replacing Electric||$350-$650||5-10 yrs|
|Replacing Oil or Propane||$250-$600||5-10 yrs|
|Replacing Natural Gas||$100-$300||10-15 yrs|
By taking advantage of the following incentives, you may be able to offset the upfront costs of purchasing a solar hot water system by more than 50%:
- Massachusetts Clean Energy Center's Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Programs – Grants for residential and commercial solar hot water installations, and grants for commercial-scale feasibility studies.
- MassSave HEAT Loan – A zero-interest loan for qualified residential energy efficiency projects
- Federal Tax Credit - A 30 percent federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for qualified residential and commercial projects. Please see the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE)
- Massachusetts Personal Income Tax Credit – The lesser of 15 percent of the total cost of the system or $1,000, for qualified clean energy projects. For details, please see the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE)
- Other rebate programs through utility providers (where applicable)
For more information on incentives that are offered for clean energy projects, please visit MassCEC’s Financing Clean Energy Projects page, or the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE)
A solar hot water system includes collectors, or panels, that are typically mounted on a building’s roof or on the ground. A liquid circulates inside of the collectors, absorbing the sun’s heat. A controller operates a pump that moves the heated fluid from the collectors through the pipes to a heat exchanger in the water tank. This transfers heat into the water tank, heating the water for the building.
The hot water can be used for all the building’s needs, including showers, laundry, cooking and, in some cases, for radiant floor heating systems, central forced-air systems or for heating pools.
Solar hot water systems do not fully replace conventional water heaters, but are a supplementary system that can often provide up to 80 percent of a building’s total hot water needs.
Visit energysavers.gov for detailed information on this and other clean energy technologies.
You first need to find an installer. It is advised that you get multiple bids. For information on companies who have successfully completed two or more projects through the Commonwealth Solar Hot Water program, please see our list of Massachusetts installers.
Your solar hot water installer will conduct a site assessment and design a system specific to your home or building’s needs.
The installer will submit a grant application to the Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Programs on your behalf.
Commonwealth Solar Hot Water – The Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Program offers rebates for solar hot water (also known as solar thermal) systems. Residential, commercial, non-profit, and publicly owned buildings are all eligible. MassCEC has reserved $10 million of funding for the Commonwealth Solar Hot Water program, which will last until the end of 2016. The pie chart below shows how much funding is remaining for the current year.
Community Energy Strategies – The Community Energy Strategies Program (CESP) is an initiative developed by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Green Communities Division. The CESP provides local residents and businesses an opportunity to work with municipal leaders to identify and enable new energy efficiency, renewable energy and renewable heating and cooling projects and programs.