The company gave 150 customers $1,000 toward the purchase of a solar hot water heaters and evaluated each case.
“There was a measurable reduction in energy demand,” said Progress spokesman Jeff Brooks.
On average, homeowners saved about 63 percent on the water heater portion of their energy bills, an average of $235 a year.
“We were trying to get a good cross section of the population and get a sense of how switching to solar hot water heaters would impact energy usage,” Brooks said.
He said Progress was also looking at other costs associated with installing a solar hot water heater.
On average, installation cost $7,271, but ranged from $4,000 to $12,375.
However, homeowners were not responsible for the full cost. Solar hot water heaters qualify for the federal tax credit of 30 percent. Since the families that tested the heaters were in North Carolina, they also qualified for a state tax rebate of 35 percent (up to $1,400). Those solar incentives, paired with the $1,000 credit from the utility, made projects more affordable.
The company evaluated each of the program participants and even looked to see what the most efficient setups were, Brooks said.
It was more comprehensive than a simple pilot, he said. The company was looking for information about all of the advantages and pitfalls to solar hot water heater installations.
There are no plans on tap right now for a continuation of the pilot project, Brooks said, but that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be plans brewing for a continuation or expansion of it in the future.
“This was always designed to be a study project,” he said. “It is our general philosophy with new technologies and programs to often start with a stuffy program like this one.”