At a time when most solar rebates are shrinking or going by the wayside because of the demand for more solar, Hawaii Energy is bucking the trend by increasing its solar hot water rebates for homeowners. The utility, the pacific island state’s largest, announced March 11 that it increased its instant rebate on new solar water heating systems from $750 to $1,000.
While photovoltaic systems are generally the most discussed when people talk about going solar, solar hot water is also a way to reduce homeowners’ energy costs cost effectively. However, particularly in the U.S., growth in the solar hot water industry is often anemic compared to growth in the PV industry. That's even though solar water heaters can bring down hot water heating costs. For instance in Hawaii they can cut costs by up to 40 percent, which equates to about $600 annually for a family of four, according to Hawaii Electric.
“If residents haven’t already done so, now is the time to take advantage of our increased rebate for solar water heating systems,” said Hawaii Energy Program Director H. Ray Starling. “Take the first step towards big energy savings with the installation of a system today. Don’t put it off until next year, or wait for that old energy-guzzling electric water heater to fail, because rebates, as well as state and federal tax credits are subject to change.”
Between Hawaii Electric’s newly increased $1,000 instant rebate and state and federal incentives the average price tag of a $6,600 solar hot water heating system (including retrofits) is reduced by more than two-thirds to about $2,000, the utility said. “Residents should act soon, as this rebate is only for a limited time,” the utility said. While it didn’t offer any hard deadlines, Hawaii Energy’s general policy for such rebates is they last for a year or until the funds supporting the rebate are exhausted.
If homeowners can’t afford the full, up-front price of a solar hot water system, the utility also offers “Hot Water, Cool Rates,” program. Under that program the utility provides the $1,000 rebate to a system financier’s loan to reduce the interest rate of the loan to lower- or zero-interest rates. “Hawaii Energy’s Hot Water, Cool Rates option makes it possible for more Hawaii residents to afford these great energy-saving systems,” Starling said. It’s also offering a $200 rebate for heat pump water heaters for smaller households. Such systems are smaller and less expensive than a solar water heater system.