Residential Solar Systems for Domestic Hot Water (DHW)

Residential Solar Systems for

Domestic Hot Water (DHW)

You walk outside on a sunny day and you can feel the warmth of the sun.  You own a vehicle with black seats and you sit on them on a sunny day and they are warm, even hot, you walk on a blacktop road on a sunny day with no shoes on and it is HOT.  Wouldn’t it make sense to capture that heat, store it and use it to heat your Home and/or Domestic Hot Water (DHW, i. e. hot water to wash dishes, take a shower, wash your face, etc).  What is absolutely great about a Solar Hot Water System is after you make that initial investment you are not charged for the amount of sunshine you use!!  No yearly increases in cost, no government intervention, no taxes to pay.  The sunshine is FREE!!  In fact in addition to sunshine being free, currently the Federal Government will allow residential customers a 30% tax credit on the cost to install a Solar Hot Water System currently good till December 31, 2019 (see requirements listed in Table #1).

In addition to all of those advantages, Solar Hot Water is “Green”, it’s Renewable, it leaves No Carbon Foot Print, the Sun doesn’t need to be delivered with a truck, we don’t need to purchase it from “across the pond” or deal with “Drilling or Hydrofracking for Natural Gas”.

Ok let’s take a $12,000.00 Residential DHW Solar System cost for easy numbers.  The Federal Tax Credit would be $3600.00 ($12,000.00 x 30% = $3600.00).  Out of Pocket Cost would be $8400.00.  In central Pennsylvania the sun supplies an estimated 80% of the DHW needs for a family of four.  Assume you are paying $60/month to heat your DHW.  The yearly savings would be $576.00 ($60.00 x 12 x 80% = $576.00).  Assuming no change in the monthly cost to heat your DHW, in 14 to 15 years you would save the money you invested in the system.  That is a 6.8% yearly return on your investment.

The Federal Government can change their mind at any time.  2016 is a good time to “make the move”.  You’ll never regret it.

Table #1

Solar water-heating property —

  • 30% for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019
  • 26% for systems in service after 12/31/19 and before 01/01/21
  • 22% for systems in service after 12/31/20 and before 01/01/22
  • No maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2021.
  • Equipment must be certified for performance by the Solar Rating Certification Corporation (SRCC) or a comparable entity endorsed by the government of the state in which the property is installed.
  • At least half the energy used to heat the dwelling’s water must be from solar in order for the solar water-heating property expenditures to be eligible.
  • The tax credit does not apply to solar water-heating property for swimming pools or hot tubs.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer’s principal residence.

Curt Bierly is president of the bierly group incorporated of which Stanley C. Bierly is a division.  He graduated from Penn State with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and is a member of the Penn College HVAC Advisory Board.  You can contact him at