Create a Greener Portfolio While Reducing Operating Costs With a Solar Water Heating System

Brian Bishop
Create a Greener Portfolio While Reducing Operating Costs With a Solar Water Heating System

When you think of businesses that use hot water regularly, what do you think of? Restaurants, to wash dishes, sure. Hotels, for their guests’ showers and, in some cases, heated pools, yes. A laundromat, even. But by now, if you’re running out of ideas, you may want to reconsider.

Hot water plays a major role in manufacturing and production, heating and cooling buildings, industrial processing, and, yes, washing dishes, heating showers and pools, and laundering clothes. No matter what your business is, there’s a good chance hot water is a big part of it. As a result, businesses are embracing solar water heating, which helps create a more sustainable business model and can help cut costs in a big way. But is it a change your business can afford to make?

Making a change
Environmental sustainability is a major focus for both California’s government and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). As a result, the two are working together to give businesses the incentive to embrace sustainable business practices. When more California businesses embrace sustainability, everybody wins.

With large rebates and a strong return on investment available, solar water heating is becoming more affordable. Rebates of up to $800,0001 significantly mitigate upfront costs, while federal tax credits for as much as 30% of the installed cost of a solar water heating system2 can finish bridging the gap between “a nice idea” and cutting your gas bill in half.3 In fact, if you install a solar water heater, your cost to heat water can be reduced by 50% to 80%.4

Reducing two houses’ worth of emissions and other examples
A Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Pleasanton saw a major opportunity, installing an active closed-loop solar water heating system with rooftop solar collectors connecting to an 800-gallon water storage tank. The result: 3,704 therms of gas saved and 43,337 fewer pounds of carbon emissions per year.5 That’s as much CO2 as just over two homes produce in a year.6 The large undertaking’s upfront costs were mitigated significantly thanks to a $47,485 incentive via PG&E.7

In the food and beverage processing industry, Clover Stornetta took advantage of PG&E rebates and the federal tax credit.8 On top of that, the company trimmed gas usage by 1,745 therms per year, which translates to a 20,400-pound-per-year reduction in carbon emissions,9 the equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions from driving two passenger vehicles for a year.10

A Taco Bell franchise in Rancho Cordova put two solar collectors on its roof, connecting to a 119-gallon storage tank, with the help of a $4,353 incentive from PG&E. As a result, the franchise has seen gas usage go down 343 therms per year and its carbon emissions drop by more than 4,000 pounds per year.11

What next?
If you think you’re ready to start tapping into these huge potential cost savings and emissions reductions, you can take a look at some of the rebates available to help get you on your way.12 From there, you can reach out to a contractor who can survey your specific situation and provide recommendations to help make sure your business — and your environment — get the most out of your new green initiative.

To learn more about the benefits of solar water heating, download PG&E's eBook, “Solar Water Heating for Businesses.”

Referenced in article:

  1. Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  2. Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  3. California Solar Initiative CSI-Thermal Program
  4. Solar Water Heating for Business eBook
  5. Solar Water Heating for Business eBook
  6. US Environmental Protection Agency
  7. Solar Water Heating for Business eBook
  8. Solar Water Heating for Business eBook
  9. US Environmental Protection Agency
  10. Solar Water Heating for Business eBook
  11. Solar Water Heating for Business eBook
  12. Pacific Gas and Electric Company