Thirty years ago there was a movement to establish solar water heating as a primary source of low cost hot water heating. That effort received mixed reviews and in due time, when systems began to deteriorate and solar contractors became scarce; many who had been enthusiastic proponents of the solar hot water heating systems withdrew their involvement and even ceased operating their solar units. In recent years tankless water heaters have become the leading alternate to conventional gas, propane and electric water heaters. Anyone who knows me knows I am not on the tankless water heater bandwagon. Tankless water heaters, while efficient and environmentally friendly, do not save their owners money. Their main advantage is supplying an endless supply of hot water (teenagers love them) and space saving. What many people have missed is the dramatic return of the solar industry. Solar technology has increased tenfold since the 1970s as energy prices have soared accordingly. Not only is solar hot water heating today a money saver and a good investment, but converting to solar electricity can be an investment program that never ends and increases its dividend every year with the increase in energy costs. Consider this: A fifty-thousand dollar (an arbitrary figure) outlay for a hot water system, along with solar electricity generation can decrease your energy bill by $300 (or more) per month. The Federal government offers a 30% rebate which reduces your original investment to $35,000. Three hundred dollars savings per month times 12 months is $3600, a little better than a 10% annual return on your money. Should energy prices increase, which they most certainly will, especially with the near certainty of an upcoming inflationary period, your return virtually increases in direct proportion to the energy rate increases. In other words, not only do you become less energy/government dependent, but you get to keep all the money you would have had to spend for gas, electric and/or propane to invest and spend elsewhere. You would be hard pressed to find a 10% investment opportunity as risk free and straight ahead as what I have illustrated above. If you are using electricity or propane for heating water, you are playing directly into the tiered billing system the energy companies now use and are paying a premium for your overall energy use. My recommendation to anyone in this situation (as I was), is look into the new solar technology and perhaps begin keeping more of your hard earned money. I will be glad to advise anyone interested in more specific details about how to evaluate your present energy situation.
Gary R. Tanner