Palm Springs Solar Company Sees Spike in Commercial Solar Pool Heater Sales from CSI-Thermal Solar Rebate Program

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Solar Service Company, a Cathedral City based Aquatherm Master Dealer, increased sales of solar pool heaters 300% last year largely in part to a statewide solar rebate program through the California Solar Initiative. John Hosman, owner of Solar Service Company, says the program has stimulated sales growth in the commercial pool heating sector of his market, and has benefited contractors, suppliers, and permitting offices alike.

Most days from June to September in Palm Springs have temperature highs of at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with nights above 70. At first glance, that might not seem like the type of climate where pool heating is needed. But if you know Palm Springs, you know there are hundreds of Homeowner Associations that call it and its surrounding areas home. These HOAs all have two things in common – a year-round swimming pool, and owners that expect that pool to be heated during the cooler months from November to April. Though warm water is desirable, boards will land themselves in hot water with members if their dues start climbing sky-high. For that reason, most HOAs in the Coachella Valley have turned to solar as a means to keep pools warm, and costs down.

John Hosman, owner of Solar Service Company (dba Energy Services) in Cathedral City, has built his business by educating residential and commercial pool owners in his area on the cost-saving benefits of solar pool heating. A simple yet dependable technology that built the foundations of the US solar industry nearly 40 years ago, solar thermal pool heaters work by circulating pool water through the tubes of a solar collector, where it is warmed by the sun before returning to the pool. Historically, residential installations have dominated the industry due to low upfront cost relative to larger commercial projects.

An Aquatherm Master Dealer since 1999, Solar Service Company sells, installs, and services the manufacturer’s original flagship brand of solar pool heaters – Solar Industries, which will soon be celebrating its 40th anniversary. In 2014, Solar Service Company enjoyed a 300% increase in its sales of Solar Industries Solar Pool Heating Systems over the previous year – a figure John attributes directly to a statewide solar rebate currently available for commercial pools through the California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal Program.

The CSI-Thermal Program offers a substantial rebate to commercial and multi-family residential pool owners for installing a solar pool heater – up to 50% of the installed system cost. The actual rebate amount is based on estimated displacement of natural gas during the first year of operation – currently $5 per displaced therm. The rebate is available to facilities that have existing natural gas service through SoCal Gas, SCE, or PG&E, and is funded by rate payers of those respective utilities. While the economics of solar pool heating have always been attractive, with system paybacks of a few years or less, commercial pool owners are eager to advantage of the subsidy while it lasts.

“It’s definitely done what it was meant to do, which is stimulate growth,” says Hosman of the rebate program. “Projects we bid in the past that didn’t move forward at the time, the rebate has them picking up the phone again.”

Of the nearly 50 commercial solar pool heating projects Solar Service Company has installed under the program, Hosman says the large majority have been existing customers. “Customers from 10-15 years ago whose systems were coming to the end of their service life have been thrilled to find out they can have a brand new solar heater installed at half the cost,” says John.

“It’s been a trickle-down stimulus on the local economy here. Solar pool heating sales are up for contractors across the board in this market, so material suppliers and permitting offices are seeing spikes in business as well.”

The environment is benefiting from John’s efforts, as well. Systems installed by Solar Service Company will displace an estimated 77,000 therms of natural gas in their first year of operation alone. According to the EPA, that’s equivalent to preventing the CO2 emissions caused by burning of 443,900 pounds of coal.

In January at Aquatherm Industries’ annual Master Dealer Kick-Off Meeting, President & CEO Dave Sizelove personally awarded Hosman the “High Impact Award,” in recognition of his sales achievements in 2014.

“John is in a key market for commercial pool heating,” said Sizelove, adding “his knowledge of that market and experience with commercial projects in the past has put him in a perfect position to take advantage of the CSI-Thermal Rebate Program.”

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Molly Friar
Aquatherm Industries, Inc.
+1 732 905 9002 Ext: 226
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Aquatherm Solar Pool Heaters
since: 01/2013
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