Friday, October 3, 2008

Going Solar: Lessons from Experience

Thinking of going solar for your water heating? Here's an article from one family who did so and wrote about their experience.
(One) TreeHugger Goes Solar

We’re not quite at the stage where every roof boasts a solar water heater, as Lloyd has advocated, but there is no doubt that as energy prices rise, solar water heating becomes increasingly attractive. And I’m proud to say that today my wife and I took our first solar showers – yes, we’ve finally taken the plunge and gone solar. Because we weren’t confident enough in our DIY skills, we avoided making our own solar hot water heater, and instead used a recent inheritance (thanks Naini!) to invest in this most practical, and relatively affordable, of micro-generation technologies. Given that there are plenty of readers likely to be interested in renewables for their own homes, I thought it might be helpful to go through our experience. So here’s what we’ve learned…

Firstly, we can say that the installation process was pretty painless. The installers were here for three days, four if you include the fact that work was rained off one day. Besides a little noise coming from the roof and the crawl space, the only intrusion into our lives was a 3 hour period when the water was turned off, and workers occasionally needing access to our attic space for the plumbing.

Secondly, it looks like it should be a good investment. Between federal and state tax credits, it looks like we will end up laying out somewhere in the region of $3,500 for the system – and while we don’t have figures for our typical water heating costs, the installers reckoned it should pay for itself in 8-9 years. With a 25 – 30 year lifespan we are confident that the system will more than pay for itself in the long run (and we’re much happier putting our money in solar than we are in stocks and bonds right now!). Of course, being solar enthusiasts and environmentalists, we’re not necessarily focused on the payback period – as blogger and Transition Town founder Rob Hopkins once commented, payback periods for solar are not necessarily the whole story...

Going Solar: Lessons from Experience : TreeHugger

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