# Estimate and Compare Solar Water Heater Costs Estimate and Compare Solar Water Heater Costs

Solar hot water heaters are becoming very popular among people who wish to live a greener or more energy efficient lifestyle. Using these heaters in a green home can help to reduce reliance on fossil fuels which produce greenhouse gasses, while still enabling a family to meet all of their hot water requirements. Government directives are intended to encourage the average homeowner to move towards using more solar power in their daily lives, and a solar hot water heater is one way that this can be done. People sometimes feel concerned about the cost of installing a solar hot water device in their home, but there are a number of ways in which the cost can easily be calculated in advance.

#### Beginning the Calculations

Before you begin to compare the costs of installing different solar hot water heater systems, it is a good idea to calculate the size of the solar heating system you will need to meet all of your needs. Solar hot water systems can provide 100% of the hot water requirements of a home in summer, but in winter this production can fall to as little as 40%may wish to consider installing a solar device that allows you to switch between solar hot water and gas/electricity hot water production. The tank and unit size for these different needs will vary.

#### Calculate Operating Costs

The next cost to be considered is the financial cost of operating your solar hot water system. To do this, you will need to work out the total solar energy factor of the system, that is how much solar energy it produces, and the costs of using additional energy sources such as gas and electricity.

Calculate the costs by gas, with the BTU fuel cost: 365 (days of the year) x 41,505 divided by the solar energy factor x (cost of fuel per BTU) = annual cost of running gas

Calculate the costs by electricity using units costs per kilowatt-hour: 365 x 12.03 divided by the solar energy factor x Cost per kilowatt/hour = annual cost of running electricity.

Once you know the costs of running these additional features, you can work out the cost of running them alongside a solar panel.

#### Costs of Installing and Maintaining

As well as the costs of running the additional energy features, there is also the costs of installing and maintaining the solar hot water heater and panels. The cost of installation for a solar heater can run into hundreds of dollars, so you should include this in any calculations you make; maintenance should also be performed regularly by a professional, although you should be able to limit this to once a year with good self-maintenance of the panels.

#### Grants and Credits

In order to encourage homeowners to install solar hot water heaters, the government has a number of schemes that can help you to reduce the costs of installing and using a solar panel heater. Look online for advice about Energy Star tax credits to find out how you can claim back some of the installation costs for your solar hot water device.