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Solar water heaters are more expensive than traditional gas or electric models; in fact, you could pay $5,000 or more for a solar model, compared with $800 to $1,000 for a regular tank. But rebates and tax credits are available for water heaters, too.

Let’s use a $5,450 solar water heater from The Solar Store in Tucson as an example. Tucson Electric Power would offer a rebate of $1,525 on that unit, bringing the price tag down to $3,925. Post-rebate, you can take a federal tax credit of 30 percent (subtract another $1,177.50), and a state tax credit of 25 percent ($981.25). bringing the cost down to $1,766.25. (Note that you will have to pay the full price for the water heater, and then collect your utility rebate, and then take a tax credit when you file your 2010 income taxes. None of these incentives are automatic.)

Plus, you’ll start saving money as soon as you take your first hot shower because you’ll be using water heated, at least in part by the sun, and that doesn’t cost you anything on your electric bill.

If it’s time to replace your older, energy-inefficient water heater anyway, consider the solar option. If you want to supplement your utility-supplied electricity with sun power, think about putting some solar panels on the roof. Free energy from the sun and huge rebates and discounts to get you there make solar a sweet alternative.


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