We realize it’s difficult to convince home owners to invest in solar hot water systems when gas prices remain relatively low. The case (and incentives) are far greater for larger commercial systems. Nevertheless, there are still advantages for residential systems that may supplant the slower return on investment.
So, here are a few ways to show homeowners the benefits of solar hot water beyond cost:
Stress the global warming advantages. Global warming won’t convince consumers who are purely cost conscious, but there are certainly many consumers who are thinking about future generations and negative effects of global warming. If your prospect appears progressive, certainly provide additional carbon saving facts about your proposed solar thermal system. Free Hot Water’s calculator provides both financial data, as well as CO2 and annual fuel savings.
Bust the myth that natural gas is a clean alternative to coal. While natural is a cleaner burning fuel than coal, the process of getting it out of the earth is far from clean, and in fact, has been shown to be very harmful to human health. Recently, the environmental protection agency has begun looking into hydraulic fracturing, which has been shown to pollute underground water supplies. To illustrate the ill effects of hydraulic fracturing (otherwise known as “fracking”), see a clip from this Academy Award Nominated documentary, Gas Land.
Frame the advantage of more utility independence. America has a huge supply of domestic natural gas, so it’s difficult to make the case that switching to solar hot water is making a dent in foreign energy imports. However, many consumers want to be more independent from their utility—and their rate hikes. You can make a genuine case that solar hot water can free them from 75% to 90% of their gas utility water heating needs. And if they really want to be free of the gas company, they can also install a solar thermal space heating system.
Having a year-round swimming pool. Home owners in popular swimming pool areas, like California, shut their pools down during the winter months due to cost of year-round heating. Yet California and other South Western states can still have many 70 degree weather days during the winter months. With a solar pool heating system, home owners have the financial freedom (and comfort) to swim in January, offsetting a great deal of pool heating costs. How much? Check our retail pool heating calculator and run the numbers. With those who love their swimming year-round, it’s much easier to make the financial case.
Bottom line: Unless gas prices rise significantly in the next few years, it’s challenging to make a financial case ROI for residential solar hot water in some markets, but don’t just rely on the financial case. Remember solar’s other advantages.
If you can think of any more advantages of residential solar water heating beyond the financial case, please add them in the comments section below. And thanks for sharing your insight!