A solar hot water system captures heat from sunlight and circulates the thermal energy to your water tank. 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. These systems do not fully replace conventional water heaters, but can provide up to 80% of a building’s total hot water needs. Solar thermal systems may also be installed to supplement a building’s heating system.
For more details on how solar hot water systems work, please read our Residential Guide to Solar Hot Water and visit the solar hot water page on energysavers.gov.
Economics and Incentives
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center provides financial incentives to help with the installation costs of a solar hot water system at 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 factors that affect the economics of a solar hot water system:
- 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.
- Installation Costs: Residents and business owners are encouraged to get multiple quotes in order to get a competitive installation cost.
- Fuel type offset: Because heating your water with oil, electricity or propane is more expensive than heating your water with natural gas, solar hot water systems replacing these fuel types have better payback periods than systems replacing natural gas.
In addition to the MassCEC Solar Hot Water rebates, other utility, state, and federal incentives may be available to reduce the upfront cost of a project. These include:
Commercial (includes non-profits)
Next Steps for Installing a Solar Hot Water System
- Visit the Residential, Business, or Government/Non-Profit SHW Program Page for information on the application process
- Visit the Finding an Installer page, which lists SHW installers and provides guidelines on how to evaluate them.
- Review data from the MassCEC solar hot water rebate program, including pricing, equipment, installer and location information that can be helpful in understanding what is being installed in your area. The database can be downloaded here.