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Solar Water Heaters

Free Energy From The Sun

Solar water heating is a simple, efficient, affordable technology that provides hot water and saves on energy bills.

Why solar water heating?

  • Save money
  • Increase the amount of hot water immediately available to you (80-gallon storage)
  • Help create a sustainable, independent energy future for Missouri and the U.S.
  • Reduce pollution created by burning fossil fuels

Will solar work in Missouri?


Is it practical?

  • Systems will last 25+ years when installed and maintained regularly (every 4-5 years)
  • Solar water heating systems are used by more than 1 million homes and over 200,000 businesses in the United States

How much will I save?

By using a solar water heating system, residents can typically cut their water heating costs by 50-80%. The average Missouri family of four, spending approximately $455 annually on water heating, would save between $227 and $364 each year.

How much will it cost to install?

Up front costs vary widely and depend on the type of system installed. Typical costs range from $3,000 to $5,000 for a standard home installation. Exact price quotes can only be obtained from the installer.

How can I pay for this?

Low-interest Solar Energy Loans are available to Columbia Water and Light electric customers for installation of new solar water heater systems. See our solar water heater rebate page for more information about the money available for solar water heaters.

Payback Time

Payback time is a measure of how long it takes for the energy savings to repay the cost of the solar water heater. For example, a family of four spends $455 per year for hot water. The family installs a $4,500 solar water heating system that reduces their annual water heating bills by 65%. It will take 15 years for the systems to pay for itself. Adding in the federal tax credit of 30%, cuts the system cost to $3,150. This will reduce your payback to 10.5 years.

Choosing the System

A family of four needs two 4’ x 8’ collector panels connected to an 80-gallon storage tank. Residents in Missouri will want freeze protection. Both drain-back and non-toxic antifreeze systems offer freeze protection. A back-up heater is needed for cloudy days. Final system choice depends on the specific application and homeowner needs.

Myths About Solar Water Heating Systems

Myth: A solar water system cannot provide hot water and at night.

Truth: During peak daylight hours, your solar system is most efficient. However, because the solar heated water is contained in an insulated storage tank, it is available at any time. In fact, a solar water heater can provide a home with more hot water for longer periods of time than traditional gas and electric systems.

Myth: Solar water panels only work on a home’s roof.

Truth: Solar water panels can be installed anywhere there is direct sunlight. A southern orientation is optimal, but not required.

Contact Utility Services


701 E Broadway, Columbia, MO 65205



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