Bozeman Couple Saves on Propane with Solar Water Heating

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Karen and Jan Foust of Bozeman have always had an interest in solar energy. Their water heater runs off propane, and the thought of using free energy from the sun to reduce their propane use always appealed to them.

Last year, the Fousts got in touch with Todd Hoitsma, owner of Liquid Solar Systems of Bozeman. After considering their needs, Todd recommended a 35,000 BTU solar hot water collector coupled with a 60 gallon solar storage tank. This system would provide about 10,000 gallons of hot water per year, which would be expected to meet about 70% of the Fousts’ annual hot water needs.

The total cost of the system was $5,900, but Todd explained that the state Alternative Energy Tax Credit as well as a federal tax credit would take a significant chunk out of that price. Karen says, “We don’t make a lot of money, and [the tax credits] was one of the things that sold us.”

The installation was completed in March 2014, and a year later, the Fousts are pleased with their solar water heating system. Karen enjoys checking the temperature of the solar-heated water – on a recent chilly February morning, the sensors were reporting a temperature of 115 degrees in the solar storage tank. As Karen puts it, “Solar is a gift from God. As much as we can use it, it’s free!”

Quick Stats

  • Owner: Karen and Jan Foust
  • Location: Bozeman, MT
  • Incentives: Federal and State of Montana tax credits
  • Installer: Liquid Solar Systems
  • Equipment Used: Sun Earth solar hot water panels, 60 gallon solar tank