Solar Hot Water Heating Provides Environmental and Financial Benefits to New Mexico

Environment New Mexico

Albuquerque, NM – New Mexico could reduce pollution and dependence on fossil fuels through the deployment of off the shelf, cost-effective solar hot water technology, according to a new report by Environment New Mexico.  

By taking advantage of this cost effective technology to harness solar energy to produce hot water for homes and businesses, New Mexico could reduce global warming pollution by the equivalent of taking more than 99,000 cars off the road.

 “By tapping the heat of the sun we can reduce the fossil fuels we use for our heating and hot water needs while putting people to work in our communities.  We have had the technology to harness the free heat of the sun for hot water for decades, and more than ever we have a workforce that is ready to install these affordable solar panels across the state,” said Environment New Mexico Advocate Sanders Moore.

Solar water heating has the potential to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels and curb pollution that causes global warming and respiratory problems. Solar water heating delivers a variety of benefits to the economy as well:

  • Solar water heating could reduce energy bills by $9.9 billion annually, saving residential customers 3.2 percent and businesses 1.6 percent of their current energy expenditures.
  • By eliminating the barriers to solar hot water, policy makers can help provide homeowners and businesses long-term savings and protect them from risks of wild swings in energy prices.  Solar water heating increases America’s energy security, reduces the environmental and public health costs of fossil fuel-related pollution, and creates jobs. Europe’s solar thermal industry, for example, employs 40,000 people and brings in $4.1 billion in annual sales.

The report, Smart, Clean, and Ready to Go: How Solar Hot Water Can Reduce Pollution and Dependence on Fossil Fuels,  provides a conservative estimate of America’s potential to use residential and commercial solar water heating. It outlines the savings in fossil fuel, electricity, and global warming pollution if that potential is fully realized. The report is based primarily on a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Environment New Mexico calls on state and federal officials to commit to aggressive steps to encourage the installation of solar water heaters on homes and businesses. Solar hot water is particularly cost effective for large institutions that use a lot of hot water, such as hotels and large laundry operations. 

Benefits are also sizable at the residential level. Diego Aragon, who has a solar hot water system in his home, described the financial benefits of the system: “Thermal solar power is a great advantage.  This past winter during the cold snap, my energy bill was about $70 compared to our neighbors’ which average about $500 per winter month.”

Arina Caster of Luz Energy Corporation pointed out that “purchasing a solar hot water system is a better investment than buying a new car; the car will depreciate in value as soon as you drive it off the lot whereas there are 40% tax credits for solar hot water and the system will increase the value of your home.”

“Especially in New Mexico, where we have the 2nd largest resource for solar energy in the U.S., it is very economical to install solar hot water systems.  In most cases, a 4-7 year payback on investment can be achieved,” added Odes Armijo-Caster, owner of Sacred Power.