Go Solar!

It’s summer, and you know what that means? It’s the perfect time to think about a Solar Raiser! Installing a solar water heating system with G.A.L.A. is a great way to save money, help the environment, and build a stronger community. Modeled after traditional barn raisers, Solar Raisers bring people together to install sustainable solar water heaters in community members’ homes.

First, lets talk about the savings. A solar hot water system will typically cut your yearly water heating costs by 60% to 70%, which means you’ll save between $200 and $500 per year. For a family of four, a solar water heating system generally costs between $8,000 and $10,000. Luckily, there are all kinds of rebates and incentives that bring that cost down. The federal government offers a tax credit for 30% of the system’s installed cost, up to $3,750. The state of New Hampshire also offers an incentive of  $1500 for installing a solar hot water system. Finally, if you’re a member of the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, you can get an additional incentive of up to $1500 through its Co-op Energy Solutions program. When you add all that up, the net cost of a solar water heating system can be as low as $3500 to $5000 net investment. If the system saves 160 gallons of oil per year at $3.80 per gallon, the system should pay for itself in four to eight years! When you host a Solar Raiser, G.A.L.A. can help you identify and apply for rebates and incentives.

The financial information is great, but why should you host a Solar Raiser with G.A.L.A. instead of hiring a contractor? First, we’re powered by volunteers—that means you don’t have to pay for the labor! Second, each Solar Raiser is an active learning opportunity for our volunteers. When they participate in a Solar Raiser, everyone from young adults to local tradesmen can develop valuable skills that let them participate in the green job economy. They learn all the technicalities of solar hot water installation, including water temperature control, electrical tie-in, and roof safety, as well as how to fill out and submit paperwork for state and federal solar rebate programs. Most importantly, Solar Raisers build community by bringing people together to work and have fun, all while making the community more sustainable.

So how about the environmental benefits of a solar water heating system? In its 20-year lifetime, the average system will prevent 34 tons of CO2 emissions. The environmental impact of a Solar Raiser is almost immediate: as soon as you install a solar hot water system, you begin to reduce your home’s fossil fuel consumption. Hosting a Solar Raiser with G.A.L.A. is a great step toward building a stronger, more sustainable community and a greener world!

Interested? To learn more about the Solar Raiser services, or to join the Sustain-A-Raisers team, please contact G.A.L.A. for further details by calling the office at 603-539-6460, or email contact@galacommunity.org

Source: Reynolds, Mike. “Ask the Energy Expert: Solar Hot Water.” New Hampshire Electric Co-op Today (June 2013).

G.A.L.A. is a Community Partner of the Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative (PAREI), the organization which initiated the “solar raiser” concept.