The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center has some exciting news on the solar hot water front. Our latest round of solar hot water awards brought the total awarded projects close to 200, and the capacity of MassCEC’s residential solar hot water program to over 1,000 kW. Known as the Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Program, this rebate program provides funding for the installation of solar hot water projects by professional installers at residential, multi-family and commercial-scale buildings.
A solar thermal system generates heat from sunlight. Solar collectors, or panels, are typically mounted on the roof. The rest of the system usually includes a pump and piping to circulate a heating liquid from the collectors to heat an insulated storage tank, and a controller to automatically operate the pump. Residential solar hot water systems can heat water for laundry, bathing and washing dishes, and can often provide 50 to 80 percent of a household’s total hot water needs. Depending on a household’s heating system, there are also solar hot water systems that can provide space heating.
In addition to MassCEC’s Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Residential and Commercial Programs, MassCEC has provided funding for 16 large-scale solar hot water projects serving over 5,000 residents through our Low Income Solar Thermal Program. In partnership with the Low Income Energy Affordability Network (LEAN), and technical consultants BEAM Engineering and Paradigm Partners, the program funds the installation of solar hot water systems at multi-family residential and nonprofit facilities serving low income residents and participants.
One recent LEAN project is the solar hot water system on the Squirrel Brand Building in Cambridge, a low-income, multi-family residential facility. Squirrel Brand was a former candy factory, known for its Squirrel Nut Zippers (chewy peanut caramels), and is now an affordable 18-unit complex with a public park and community gardens. The solar hot water system is a flat plate system that will provide about half of the domestic hot water needs for the building’s 40 residents.
There are a lot of great incentives currently available for the installation of solar projects in Massachusetts that will lower your energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.