Virtually any business that uses hot water can save with solar water heating. It’s best for businesses or properties that use a substantial amount of hot water—such as those that use water for manufacturing, laundering, dishwashing or sanitization. Additionally, solar water heating systems can be used for heating and cooling buildings, industrial and heat processes, heating swimming pools and other applications that require the heating of water.
Purchasing a solar water heating system is an investment—the cost is usually more up front, but the savings in the long run can be substantial and will offset the cost over its lifetime. The cost of the system and how much you save depend on several factors including the following:
On average, if you install a solar water heater, your cost to heat water is reduced by 50–80 percent and your payback can be as little as a few years. To get a better sense of costs and savings, a local contractor can help you assess your hot water needs, design a system and calculate your rebate, tax credit and return on investment (ROI) as well as help determine financing options.
Yes. The California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal program through PG&E provides incentives up to $800,000* to eligible business and multi-family customers who install a solar water heating system.** The incentive amount is based on the size and performance of the system—how much natural gas (therms) is saved. The more water you heat with the sun, the bigger your rebate. The contractor is usually responsible for determining the incentive amount and submitting the rebate application.
You may also qualify for a 30 percent federal tax credit (minus the rebate amount) for the installed cost of the system. After 2016, the federal tax credit will be reduced to 10 percent. Consult your personal tax advisor for more information.
Additionally, there are many ways to help finance the installation of a solar water heating system, including commercial bank and credit union loans, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) and other third-party financing options such as Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).*Final rebate amount will be based on the estimated savings as determined by your contractor.
The first step is to use our contractor search tool to find a licensed contractor. PG&E recommends getting at least two to three estimates from different contractors to compare costs, system types and savings. There is no obligation and you can take advantage of PG&E’s free Solar Water Heating Informational Kit to help you make an informed decision. You should also verify the contractor has an active A, B, C-10 or C-46 license by checking the Contractors' State License Board (CSLB) website. Lastly, be sure to ask about experience and check references before signing the contract.