In reply to Herbert Whittall's letter about Solar water heater (April 29), I have been in the business of solar installation and repair for more than 30 years. In the 1970s and 1980s, the federal government gave out 40 percent tax credits to all systems. Even then, for most homeowners, the cost was not worth the investment.
Yes, a family of four will save about $50 to $60 a month. This then would take about six to 10 years to pay for the system, and by that time repairs will have to be made. A control unit costs about $600 and a tank replacement is more than $1,000.
They work very well, but even with a 40 percent credit, most people look at the overall out-of-pocket cost. If you need a water heater you can spend $600 or $6,000, in these times with the low return in real estate. Until the price comes down most people will not buy. I don't see prices dropping in copper tube, pumps, controls, permits, labor and now gas.
In the past 15 years I have taken out more solar systems than I have installed. The bottom line of a homeowner will always be the overall cost. I switched to gas, now I save 50 percent. That was my bottom line.