Solar Water Heating in Arizona

The history of heating water with the sun in Arizona goes back into the 19th century and probably hundreds of years before that by Native Americans.  In the early 1980’s, with the help of state and federal tax credits and encouragement through various forms of promotion, over 100,000 solar water heating systems were installed in Arizona.


However, in this new age of renewable energy and energy efficiency, solar water heating (SWH) has lagged behind solar electric and  energy efficient products like lighting, insulation and duct sealing. There are a number of reasons for this, but it the most significant is likely due to a lack of direct representation.  Although the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association claims within its mission statement to represent all solar technologies, they have been very busy with solar electric issues such as net metering, commercial solar electric incentives and PACE. Solar Water Heating has been largely become an after thought.


In an effort to fill this void, the Arizona Solar Water Heating Alliance was formed. This alliance will deal strictly with the promotion of SWH.  Our goal is to replace the use of electric and gas water heaters in Arizona for the economic and environmental benefits of our residents.  It is anticipated that with this targeted promotion, the sales of SWH systems will increase dramatically.


The following advantages of SWH will be presented to numerous entities including the Arizona Corporation Commission, APS, SRP, TEP and RUCO, as well as to the general public:



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SWH stores energy (unlike PV which requires net metering) contributing to peak load shaving.


It eliminates a large portion of the electric bill at a low cost.


Each household has a water heater that will fail at some point and replacing it with a SWH leverages the money spent towards replacement.


SWH (unlike PV) is within the reach of ownership for most people.


Money saved by SWH is put back into the local economy.


Properly funded, the adoption of SWH by residents would cost just slightly more than a traditional water heater insuring greater adoption.


A SWH program by the ACC requires a relatively small budget but benefits many.


Traditional water heating technology, especially resistance electric heating elements ( which 60% of APS and SRP customers use) is archaic, inefficient, and not environmentally friendly.


SWH replaces old technology with a 100 percent load reduction over 8 months and 50 percent for the rest of the year (when properly sized) guaranteeing peak load savings all year long.

The above points form a compelling rationale for the substantial increased use of SWH in a state with one of the world's best natural resources, the Arizona heat and sunshine.  The Arizona Solar Water Heating Alliance will deliver this message beginning immediately and can use all available support.


If you are one of the stakeholders in this (and that includes, SWH Manufacturers, SWH sales and installation companies, AZ Utilities, concerned residents…) we ask you to join this new alliance in order to bring water heating technology into the 21st century just like we have done with our lighting technology.  This is long overdue in the state of Arizona and will be to the benefit of all.