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What Happened to Solar?

THEN AND NOW: What Happened to Solar? ~ By Gina Philippon

Those of us who pre-buy our heating fuel eagerly await that notice in the mail or the banner hanging across Main Street advertising the per gallon price for the approaching heating season. It was the summer of 2008 when the price for heating oil was advertised by some dealers at or above $5.00 / gal. I can clearly remember the collective outrage, anger, frustration and fear that we all felt over those prices and the fingers of blame being pointed at government, politicians, speculators, big oil and OPEC. However frustrated we were, those prices were our reality and we had to find a way to survive with them.

At MCES we had been installing solar hot water collection systems for some time on a limited basis but the demand for alternatives to fossil fuel seemed to go wild that summer and the few years following. We were visiting homes, designing and estimating solar hot water systems as fast as we could. The demand was strong and sales were brisk. The evacuated tube arrays were big sellers followed by the Velux flat plate collectors. A well designed and installed solar hot water system could produce 65% – 70% of a homes annual hot water needs. Most during the summer months with some limited production in the winter. Federal Tax Credits helped to offset the $10,000 + cost of installing a typical system.
During the few years following that price spike, prices came down, leveled off and we all got accustomed to budgeting for our energy. As that happened, solar demand dropped to nearly nothing. The actual reason is unknown but likely is a combination of becoming accustomed to prices, fuel prices dropping and the advent of the heat pump water heater.

A $3,000 hybrid electric heat pump water heater can produce as much renewable hot water as a $10,000 solar collection and storage system. The heat pump water heater takes up less space, can be installed in one day, requires nearly no maintenance and currently Efficiency Maine is offering a $750.00 rebate while funds are available and eligibility requirements are met. Demand for heat pump water heaters has been strong for several years and MCES has installed dozens of them.

There are other factors that contributed to the decreased demand for solar systems. Higher efficiency factors for electric water heaters, high efficiency propane and natural gas boilers paired with indirect fired water heaters and on-demand continuous flow propane water heaters are a few reasons. If you are interested in saving fuel, saving money, saving the environment or a combination of all three, a heat pump water heater may be a good option for you. Call 1-800-890-7196 today for your no cost quote.

Are Heat Pump Water Heaters Worth the Money?

Our Customers often ask us, “are heat pump water heaters worth the money?”  While a heat pump water heater will save significant money year round, keep in mind that in very cold climates, the net performance will drop in winter.   Relatively inexpensive to install, heat pump water heaters are available as a stand-alone unit, or an add-on to your existing water heater.

Benefits of a heat pump water heaters include:

  • Reduced cost per gallon for your domestic hot waternav-heat-pump
  • Dehumidification
  • Renewable Energy If you are running a costly dehumidifier in your basement during the summer months, a heat pump water heater can make your dehumidifier run less.  If your water heater is in need of replacement consider replacing it with an electric hybrid heat pump water heater.

    The State Premier® Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater is an advanced hybrid electric water heater that integrates heat pump technology to produce a product twice as efficient as a standard electric water heater.  With 50, 66, and 80 gallon models available, these heat pump water heaters are the most versatile and energy-efficient options for homeowners looking for cost savings and performance.

    The Premier® Hybrid Electric heat pump water heater from State is the most cost effective energy-efficient option available for consumers who want to save money on their utility bills. The Premier® can reduce water heating costs up to 71% and provide payback in 2-3 years. With annual savings of $437 or more, there is no better way to go green.

    The greatest savings may occur in regions where the average temperatures are colder. Operating five months out of the year in the heat pump mode where electricity rates are two to three times higher will yield more savings than operating 10 months in the heat pump mode where electricity rates are lower.