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Break-even Cost for Residential Solar Water Heating in the United States: Key Drivers and Sensitivities (2011)

Submitted by Raquel Ponte Costa on May 30, 2015

This technical report was written by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). It examines the technology and economics that determine whether the cost of energy saved by a residential solar thermal hot water heating system will equal the cost of purchasing electricity or natural gas generated heat from the grid. This is known as the break-even cost.

Break-even costs vary from region to region. The key factors in determine the point of break-even price include the average amount of hot water used by a household, local government incentives, fuel prices and the type of system used. The study found that for a solar thermal water heating system costing $7,000 to install, only 16% of residential consumers in the United States (excluding Alaska & Hawaii) are in a zone that could be considered the break-even price point.

Author: Hannah Cassard, Paul Denholm, and Sean Ong

Date: 2011

Pages: 54

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