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Motel Case Study for Solar Hot Water System in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Rebates for Commercial Solar Hot Water

When people think of solar thermal systems, they often think of hot, sunny climates like California and Arizona. But the truth is that solar thermal works in cold climates too—including Massachusetts, where commercial businesses like hotels and motels can receive 25% of the system’s cost, up to $50,000, to install a solar water heating system.

The state’s Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Program offers rebates for solar hot water systems that serve residential, commercial, non-profit, and publicly owned buildings. MassCEC (the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center) administers the program.

In terms of eligibility, commercial-scale hot water users such as apartment buildings, hotels, motels, nursing homes, hospitals, restaurants, universities, etc, will first need to complete a feasibility study. The good news is that $5,000 is available to the applicants to complete the feasibility study.

Once the feasibility study shows that solar thermal will be a benefit to the commercial scale users, the entity is then eligible to receive the rebate, plus the Federal government’s 30% investment tax credit if it’s a for-profit company. (Government and non-profit buildings receive a higher rebate.)

  • For commercial property owners, the rebate is equal to $45 x the number of collectors x SRCC rating of the OG-100 collector, up to 25% of the cost or a maximum of $50,000.
  • For non-profit and government facilities, the rebate equals $55 x the number of collectors x the collectors’ OG-100 SRCC rating, subject to the same 25% of cost or $50,000 limits.
  • If the solar thermal system is metered through a solar thermal monitoring system, the project will receive an additional $1500.

One of the businesses using the program is the Wellfleet Motel, located in Wellfleet, MA, which used dirty oil heaters to heat water. According to MassCED database records, the motel’s system cost $50,000. However, that cost was reduced with the $7,682.50 rebate from MassCEC, plus another $15,000 tax credit from the Federal Government, and $1500 for monitoring. Consequently, total rebates and incentives received were equal to a little over $24,100.

With incentives accounting for nearly half the system’s cost, it’s estimated that the motel will receive a ROI in just 7 years. That’s not surprising, especially given the motel’s expensive oil heating bills from using 1500 gallons a day for customer hot showers and the washings of towels, sheets, and other linens.

Ultimately, the 9-collector drainback solar thermal system with a 320-gallon tank will offset 80% of the motel’s annual hot water usage!

Motel Solar Hot Water Case Study, Massachusetts
MassCEC Rebate $7,682.50
Federal 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) $15,000
Installed Monitoring System $1,500
Additional incentives available See website
Total incentives $24,182
Total cost for 9 collector solar drainback system before incentives. $50,000
Total cost after incentives $25,820
Estimated return on investment 7 years!

Despite this very generous rebate, few Massachusetts businesses have taken advantage of the solar thermal incentives available in Massachusetts. In fact, according to MassCEC, only five businesses have been granted a rebate and 75% of the allotted funds are still available.

So if you’re a Massachusetts commercial business that uses a lot of hot water, we hope you’ll consider utilizing these rebates and benefit from solar thermal. Contact us for more information.

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