SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – Scott Hitchcock of Abundant Solar Resources wonders why more people aren’t trying to save money by installing solar hot water. Everyone enjoys a hot shower. Everyone has dishes to do and clothes to wash. Everyone has to make hot water to accomplish these regular tasks, so why not save fuel or electricity by making hot water from the sun.
“It’s not difficult,” says Hitchcock. “If you have a sunny spot near your house, a collector or panels can be installed, and energy from the sun can be moved and stored in the form of hot water. I think people just don’t know it’s here. I’ve been doing it for 11 years in Vermont and New Hampshire.” Hitchcock has worked in many aspects of the solar industry, installation, retail and wholesale sales, and distribution. He restarted his business in December of 2016, and has moved with the demand for maintenance on older systems over the past year.
What does it cost? “It really depends on what your existing hot water system looks like,” Hitchcock answers. “To supplement an electric water heater it could be as low as $3,500. I have installed systems that make hot water and help with heat too. Those can be much more expensive, with one example selling for $27,000 to a customer building a new, highly efficient home. I guess the average is around $11,000, but there’s also a 30 percent federal tax credit, so the final investment would be around $7,700.” Hitchcock adds that a typical system can pay for itself in 5-7 years.
Why aren’t more people installing solar thermal systems? “There aren’t many people talking about it. There are a lot of companies selling PV systems (solar electric). You don’t need a lot of experience to install a grid-tie PV system, and the payback is easier to demonstrate clearly.” His observation is that people just aren’t being told that it’s available. “It’s become my mission to talk about it,” he says. “I just think that anyone who can take advantage of a free energy source should know the best ways to do that.”
He also notes that solar hot water is more efficient than making electricity from solar panels. Solar thermal collectors are around 40 percent efficient, while solar electric panels top efficiencies are at 20-25 percent.
Interested in a solar hot water system? Abundant Solar Resources is offering 10 percent off through June 1. Call Scott Hitchcock at 802-886-6474 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.