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For New Apartment Buildings, Solar Heating and Hot Water Is Now Cost Competitive as Natural Gas Heating

San Jose, California– Free Hot Water, a San Jose solar thermal engineering firm, has designed a San Francisco apartment complex’s solar heating and hot water system that is cost competitive to traditional natural gas systems. As a result, California apartment developers can now go solar at the same cost of a natural gas system. When California and Federal incentives are included, the final cost for solar is even less.

Free Hot Water’s client, Barak Jolish, a San Francisco building developer, received a total of five bids to install a new hydronic heating and hot water system for his 3-story, 50-unit, 19,260 sq. ft. student housing complex renovation. His lowest conventional natural-gas system bid was around $200,000. With Free Hot Water’s proprietary solar thermal system design, Jolish received a complete solar thermal heating and hot water system at the same $200,000 cost.

When rebates and tax incentives are included, the net installed cost was under $114,000. Additionally, Free Hot Water’s solar and energy efficiency solutions will reduce the apartment complex’s operating costs by over 66% per year.

“This is groundbreaking news,” said Gal Moyal, CEO and Chief Engineer at Free Hot Water, “We had no idea that our solar thermal design was so cost competitive with conventional gas heating systems until Mr Jolish revealed his other bids to us. This means that from now on—even without incentives— apartment building owners can choose a solar thermal system and save money on the building’s operating costs.”

How Free Hot Water’s Design Is Cost Competitive

Free Hot Water’s unique solar thermal design reduced the installed costs through several factors, including Free Hot Water’s storage tank solutions, 95% efficient boilers, energy efficient pump station design, quality solar thermal collectors, and a central controller that optimizes the heat and hot water flow of the building’s entire energy system.


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Eighteen 4 X 10 made-in-USA solar collectors will provide 750 gal/day of solar hot water for tenant showers, laundry, and dishwashing. The radiant heating system, also tied to the solar system, will provide 75% of the heat needed by the building for San Francisco’s chilly climate.

Free Hot Water’s design also included energy efficient lighting and a 4.5 kW solar photovoltaic system, which will offset a portion of the building’s lighting costs.

To tie together the various solar heating and energy systems, a cutting-edge control panel will enable building managers to monitor the solar PV, solar radiant heat, and the solar hot water system from a single web-based dashboard, allowing managers to view all solar operations on-the-go and quickly address any problems.

Once completed in April 2013, developer Barak Jolish estimates that the building’s three solar systems and energy efficiencies will cut his operating energy costs by 66%.

“That has a huge impact on my net operating expenses for the building,” Jolish said.

“We own 17 other buildings in San Francisco, mostly in the Mission district. We’ll definitely consider this for future renovations.”

 About Free Hot Water

Free Hot Water, based in San Jose, California, offers affordable, high quality hot water systems for commercial applications. Our recommended products and systems are clearly distinguished by their integrated design, quality, affordability, and ease of installation.

Our San Jose in-house engineering department specializes in designing solar thermal systems for a variety of large scale commercial applications. We evaluate each project, and design custom systems that are optimized for the unique needs of your business. Free Hot Water’s extra-mile customer service also includes submitting all documents necessary for permits and help to get you all applicable financial solar incentives.


Paul Burrowes
(408) 432-9900

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