<h2 style="margin: 10pt 0in 0pt"><font size="3" color="#990000">Savings heat up with solar-powered water heaters</font></h2><p><span style="line-height: 200%; font-family: ‘Verdana’,’sans-serif’; letter-spacing: 1pt; font-size: 10pt">(ARA) – More homeowners are deciding solar power is the right thing to do – for the sake of the environment and their wallets. New technologies make it easier than ever to use the sun to heat water in our homes. And Congress is helping make going green a cash-smart move too, by extending the federal solar tax credit another eight years.</span></p><span style="line-height: 200%; font-family: ‘Verdana’,’sans-serif’; letter-spacing: 1pt; font-size: 10pt"><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Thanks to the tax credit program, you can recoup 30 percent of the total installed cost of a solar water heating system. "It’s a great time to switch to solar power for your water heating needs," says Jim Cika, a solar water heating expert with VELUX America. But before you buy a solar water heater, do your homework, he urges, learn about the technologies available and review just how solar-friendly your home can be. </p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"> </p><div style="text-align: center"><img src="../images/roof-solar-panels.jpg" border="0" alt="Roof solar panels" title="Roof solar panels" width="420" height="393" /></div>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">"Homeowners need to factor in geographic location, orientation of the roof for solar collectors, costs and tax incentives and rebates that may be available to arrive at an economically sensible and environmentally-sensitive decision," Cika says.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">While a solar water heating system usually costs more to purchase and install than a conventional water heating system, it can reduce energy costs in the long run and is much kinder to the planet.<span>  </span></p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Cika says that the cost of an installed ENERGY STAR qualified system from his company will vary depending upon the volume of heated water required in a home. A packaged system consisting of one, two or three rooftop solar collector panels will usually be installed along with a 60, 80 or 120-gallon solar storage tank. An average installation is projected to cost $6,500 to $11,000, with some complex installations running as much as $12,000. Systems are available for gas, electric and boiler markets throughout the U.S., Cika says.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">"On average," he says, "if you install a solar water heater, your water heating bills should drop 50 to 80 percent — not an insignificant sum when you consider that the Department of Energy says that water heating can account for 14 to 25 percent of the energy consumed in our homes."</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">According to Cika, in the construction of a new home, where the cost of the system is rolled into the mortgage, homeowners can save more on their monthly energy bills than the increase in their house payment. "Solar water heating provides a positive cash flow from the day of move in," he says, "effectively giving an immediate payback."</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">"In the case of an installation in an existing home in an area that has both federal and state rebates and incentives," he says, "the payback can vary from three to seven years."</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Two primary solar technologies are available in the market right now: solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal. The photovoltaic process uses the sun to generate electricity and solar thermal uses the sun to heat water. Solar thermal often is the technology of choice for homeowners for a number of reasons. Kevin Hughes, a writer for GreenBuildingElements.com, who installed a solar thermal system in his San Francisco home, explains why.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">"I prefer solar thermal, specifically solar hot water, a much older technology. It is much cheaper to install, much more efficient and has a much faster payback," he says.<span>  </span></p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">For homeowners considering an installation, the Internet offers a number of websites that can be helpful with an analysis and then with locating products and installers. Findsolar.com and nabcep.org list certified installers by state. Solar-rating.org lists certified solar equipment manufacturers and certified installers for VELUX units are listed at veluxusa.com. </p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Eere.energy.gov/consumer includes a link to a calculator for initial cost, annual operating costs and determining payback, as well as a consumer’s guide to solar thermal, while nrel.gov offers a consumer’s guide to photovoltaic. Federal and state tax credit information, by geographic area, is available at dsireusa.org.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Cika says that solar water heating represents a logical first step for homeowners who want to harness the power of the sun because it is relatively simple technology compared to generating electricity from the sun. "The technologies accomplish different objectives," he says, "but they both will pay increasing dividends to homeowners who utilize them now and in the future."</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">For more information on the benefits of solar water heating or natural light and ventilation through skylights, call (800) 283-2831 or visit <a href="http://veluxusa.com" target="_blank">veluxusa.com</a>. </p>  <p><span style="line-height: 200%; font-family: ‘Verdana’,’sans-serif’; letter-spacing: 1pt; font-size: 10pt">Courtesy ARAcontent</span></p></span>