A Better (and cheaper!) way to save on hot water

September 25, 2015

Looking for an effective way to save on water heating bills? While using low-flow faucets, shortening showers, and properly insulating your water tank are all excellent ways to save on water heating bills (particularly in light of California's drought conditions), there is another option you may not be considering: solar water heaters. By harnessing the power of the sun, solar hot water heaters (and solar pool heating) are gaining popularity as effective, energy-saving upgrades for homeowners. We'll help provide you with the funding you need to start saving!

Solar thermal hot water: how does it work?

Solar thermal units use pumps to circulate fluid between "collector" units (pictured above) and water storage tanks. The collectors, which look similar to traditional solar panels, are typically positioned on the roof of the home.

Direct and indirect solar water heaters

There are two main types of active solar water heaters: direct and indirect. The main difference between the two systems lies in what substance is circulated. In a direct solar water heater, the collector draws heat energy from the sun, transfers it into the water, and then the system actively pumps heated water throughout the home. In an indirect model, the collector converts solar heat energy into a heat-transfer fluid stored inside the collector's tubes. The liquid, when heated, travels down into a water storage tank and heats the water. Once the heat has been transferred to the water in the tank, the fluid circulates back to the collector. Direct systems, which are the simpler and less expensive of the two systems, are more popular in warmer climates, where system issues caused by water freezing are unlikely.

An efficient choice for hot water

Solar water heating systems are an excellent way to save energy and can save homeowners 50%-80% on water heating bills. Not all systems are created the same, though. With a highly efficient system installed by a CaliforniaFIRST registered contractor, you'll know you're getting the best bang for the buck.

Efficiency measures

The efficiency of solar thermal systems is measured by a number called a System Solar Fraction (SF), a fraction between the amount of energy provided by the system and the total energy required. The higher the number, the better. An SF of 1, for example, would mean that all energy required to operate a system is supplied by solar power. For a system to qualify for CaliforniaFIRST financing, the SF rating must be _е_еќев 0.5. The system must also have OG-300 certification (or OG-100 for a solar pool heating system), a certification established by the nationally-recognized Solar Rating and Certification Corporation. These qualifications ensure your system is installed correctly, is safe, and performs optimally.

Need an installer?

Once approved for our PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing, we'll help you select a contractor to complete your upgrade. We offer a network of more than 900 CaliforniaFIRST registered contractors to help complete your switch to solar water heating. These contractors are your local experts in energy efficiency upgrades, and they can help answer any questions about the application process for our financing. By providing 100% upfront financing with flexible repayment terms, we make it easier than ever to switch to solar water heating. Once the upgrade is complete, you'll begin repaying the cost of the upgrade on your property tax bill. Get in touch to learn more about our application process and check your eligibility. Also be sure to check out our financing for solar pool heating and a variety of other energy and water-saving upgrades.