Can Solar Water Heaters Save You Money?

Discover the pros and cons of a solar water heater system

With many people looking for alternative energy sources, it’s no wonder many are considering solar water heaters. These roof-mounted collectors absorb the sun’s heat and transfer it to a closed-loop system that runs to the water tank. If this sounds good to you, keep reading to discover if one of these systems is in your future.


A solar hot water heater has several good things going for it. First, it uses free energy from the sun and could “theoretically” pay for itself in as little as five years if you consider tax credits. A good environmental feature is the fact that they cut greenhouse-gas emissions, which is good for everyone.


Before you purchase a solar power water heater, you also need to consider the “cons”. The cons of the systems involve the extra cost that you will incur by using them. You will have extra expense for biannual service calls to inspect the collector and check the heat-transferring fluid connections. The fluid requires changing every 5 years and the systems are susceptible to damage due to wind, tree limbs, hail, lightening.

As mentioned above, theoretically speaking, the solar water heater could pay for itself within five years. However, in the real world, unless you live in a very warm part of the country, it could take much longer to pay off the system.

Flat panel units perform the best by cutting electricity use by up to 29%. But even at this rate, it could take 12 to 20 years to pay off the solar water heater system. By this time, there is a good chance the system probably will not be functioning any longer.

Deciding if solar heaters are for you boils down to two things: Do you want to save money or to help the environment? If you are more interested in saving the environment than saving money, solar water heaters are perfect for you.