Hot Water, Cool Savings

By Alex Rose

Published 08/18 2014 10:50PM

Updated 08/21 2014 09:24AM

Richmond, Vt.- Homeowner David Palmer didn't want to waste any time to save money.

“I decided it was time to pull the trigger and reduce my heat costs in the winter time,” Palmer said.

Palmer signed up to be the first customer for Sunwards new solar water heating system.

The system started out less than $10,000, but with the discounts incentives and tax credits, it ends up being just under $5,000.

Solar power doesn't have a fluctuating price tag.

“With the cost of propane going up, this was just a great way to try to reduce my costs,” Palmer said.

Installers say this system takes about half the setup time as other solar panels. That's because it's independent from your home's electric grid. Wires take the heat from the panel, and pump it straight to your water heater.

And the parts for the panel are made locally.

“It's a very practical frame,” said contractor and owner of Harvestar Power Eric Hartman. “This frame itself is built right here in Vermont and you piece it together, it really lowers the cost to install the system because you can really place it anywhere.”

As the weather gets warmer, the energy can be stored and heat your water at your convenience.

But that isn't the only factor you control.

Sunnovations, a partner in this project with Efficiency Vermont, developed an app to keep track of your costs and saving.

“Customers get the monitor for free, and over one thousand dollars of discounts for the system,” said Sunward CEO Tom Hughes.

And the combination of the app and the independent heat source makes this project a real treat.

“It's the Reese’s peanut butter cup of solar," Hughes said.

Hughes believes customers will save 50%-75% on their hot water bill annually.

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