The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center has announced that a pilot programfor solar thermal rebate incentives will open in early February. Theprogram will only be open to residential solar installations to finance solar hot water projects. Traditionally, Massachusetts has only funded a rebate program for solar photovoltaic (PV) installations only. This new program will allow homeowners to capitalize on subsidies to take advantage of solar thermal technology.
A solar thermal system uses energy from the sun to heat water used in a home or pool, or for heating the home itself. A solar thermal system is a closed-loop system where a liquid such as glycol circulatesthrough the collector on the roof. As it circulates, the sun is beating down on the collector and warming the liquid flowing through it. Theheated liquid then flows to the home’s hot water heater and transfersits heat energy to the water in the heater. This is essentially heating the water for free, rather than paying for electricity or gas to heatup the water. A business or home can slash about 80% of its hot waterneeds through this process.
For the purposes of the Massachusetts solar thermal program, only solar domestic hot water heating systemsare eligible; the subsidy cannot be used for space heating or poolheating. Rebates are not available for “do-it-yourself projects” andyou should involve a licensed solar professional. The total incentive will equal to about $1,000 per system for anaverage residential hot water system for a four or five personhousehold. When combined with the other federal, state, and utilityincentives available, this can make up more than 50% of the cost.
The solar thermal residential rebate is only available to customersof certain municipal lighting plants, Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light(Unitil), National Grid, NSTAR Electric, and Western MassachusettsElectric. The program is awarded on a non-competitive process and isincentives are based on the size of the system. For more information,go to the “Solar Hot Water Factsheet” on the MassCEC website.
Both solar thermal and PV are excellent means of harnessing some of that free power from the sun, and both are eligible for generous rebates. Brightstar Solar onlyperforms photovoltaic solar installations, but we would be happy to recommend a trusted partner for solar thermal work in Massachusetts. If, however, you’re interested in generating solar electricity for your home, please reach out to us for a free evaluation of your site.
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