If your water heater is in the basement or in the garage, the most cost effective solar water heating system for you may not involve any plumbing of pipes to the roof. Heat pump water heaters combined with advances in solar cell efficiency are proving to be very effective at using the sun’s energy to heat water.

Traditional solar water heaters still yield the most efficient use of roof space, but small households often have modest hot water demand which may easily be offset by a heat pump and three or four high efficiency solar electric panels. Three properly placed SunPower 345 watt panels would produce 1,150 kWh per year. If the heat pump hybrid uses 60% less energy per gallon of hot water those 1,150 kWh are doing the work of a regular electric water heater that uses 2,875 kWh.

The 50 gallon GE GeoSpring hybrid water heater uses about 450 watts when running in heat pump mode. The electric element (for fast recovery) uses 4,500 watts. If the GeoSpring was on a timer to coincide with solar production during the day the effect would be similar to a traditional solar water heater, but there is no need for that because net metering allows that solar energy to be ‘retrieved’ at any time. Jeremy and Pam used a GeoSpring to heat their home this past heating season and it brought their energy use to net zero, but that’s another story.

The regular retail price for GE GeoSpring water heaters ranges between $999 and $1,299. Courtesy of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance we are able to offer an instant $300 rebate on all GE GeoSpring water heaters purchased between May 1 and June 13, 2014 (while supplies last).

Information on the Seattle City Light rebate program can be found by clicking HERE. The fact sheet can be accessed HERE.