Harnessing the abundant and reliable power of the sun to heat water used for bathing, cooking and washing dishes and clothes is great way to save money on your energy costs. For Santa Barbara County residents, there are now several programs available to help you save green and be green at the same time.
Along with decreasing energy costs, homeowners can enjoy the benefits of solar water heating, which include a state rebate and federal tax credits and low interest, unsecured loans available through the county’s emPowerSBC program. In addition, emPowerSBC provides access to a pool of qualified contractors who specialize in installing solar water heating systems and have experience navigating the rebate and low interest loan programs.
Solar water heating systems serve as “backups” to the homeowner’s current gas or electric water heater, heating and holding hot water in reserve. The less work the water heater needs to do, the less energy used and more money saved.
The California Solar Initiative program grants homeowners who install new solar water heating systems rebates of up to $2,719 from funding gathered by several utility companies, including PG&E, Edison and SoCalGas. This funding is limited and rebates will decrease as the fund is depleted, so interested homeowners should apply quickly.
Federal energy tax credits are available through the end of 2016 that allow owners of new and second homes to cut 30 percent from the cost of a solar water heater system put into service between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2016. Rental properties do not qualify for the credits.
Typically, the cost of a solar water heating system runs $8,000 to $9,000, but with the rebates and tax credits, the investment becomes much more affordable.
“Some of our participating contractors who specialize in installing solar water heating systems tell us that they have customers who have cut the cost of a solar water heating system in half by combining the rebates and tax credits,” said Angie Hacker, program manager for the emPowerSBC program.
— Stacy Miller represents emPower Santa Barbara County.