Why Solar Hot Water?
Solar thermal systems are very efficient at collecting solar energy, and they save you money – Water heating bills typically drop 50%-70% with installation of a solar hot water system. Solar hot water systems benefit the environment – using the sun's energy to heat your water also cuts down carbon emissions if your water is heated by natural gas or propane.  If you have limited area for mounting panels, solar thermal collectors are a very efficient use of that space, with conversion ratios as high as 70% of raw solar energy converted to hot water.
What are solar hot water systems and how do they work?
Solar hot water systems use solar collectors mounted on your roof to heat water for your home or business. They can be used for domestic hot water, hydronic space heating, and pool heating. There are a number of styles of solar water heating systems available. Puget Sound Solar installs evacuated tube systems, flat plate collectors systems, and pool heaters. Pool heaters heat pool water directly through inexpensive collectors and use the pool pump for circulation. In the other types, the sun heats liquid in the solar collectors that is then pumped into a heat exchanger to heat water in a storage tank. Solar hot water systems typically use a traditional water heater as a backup ensuring there is always plenty of hot water available.
Are there incentives?
Currently, there is no sales tax, and there is a 30% federal tax credit available for solar domestic water heating systems. These systems must be certified by the Solar Ratings Certification Corporation to ensure that they are effective. Puget Sound Solar sells SRCC OG-300 certified systems and OG-100 certified collectors. There is no federal tax credit for pool heating systems, but multi-family buildings may be able to get an incentive offered by Puget Sound Energy if the energy output achieves a sufficient level. Snohomish PUD offers a rebate or low-interest loan for residential solar hot water systems, and loans are available from local lenders.
Typical Costs:
The cost can vary depending on these types, and the difficulty of installation. Expect the cost of a typical solar domestic water heating system to range as follows: