Massachusetts Fires up Solar Hot Water Rebates

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Massachusetts may seem like an unlikely state for solar power. When you look at its solar insolation value of only 4.0 kilowatt-hours (compared to California’s 6.0 and Florida’s 5.0), the New England state seems lacking in sunshine.

In spite of that, Massachusetts has shown a definite fondness for solar energy ever since passage of the Green Communities Act of 2007 – a move that put it in the running for a slot among the top ten best states for solar (where it won #5 in 2008, #10 in 2009, and #5 again in 2010).

Now, to put a little shine on that well-deserved reputation, Massachusetts is offering a rebate program for residential installations of solar hot water. Beginning in February of this year, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center will accept applications for a pilot program designed to test the waters (pun intended).

The application process is described as “non-competitive” (you have to meet standards, but not jump through 10,000 hoops), and the rebates begin at $12.50 per square foot of collector, or an average of $1,000. Each system (or its components) manufactured within the state also qualifies for an additional $200, which means that a solar hot water system can reportedly be had for less than half the cost when combined with other federal, state, and utility incentives.

The rebates make sense from both a resource standpoint (heating water is 11 percent of a household’s energy use) and a financial one (a typical homeowner spends about $500 per year to operate a 75-gallon hot water tank), and a typical passive solar water heating system, looking much like a series of solar photovoltaic panels, can provide up to three-fourths of a home’s total hot water needs.

Photo Credit: Wonderlane via Flickr CC

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