Hot water is expensive, accounting for 13 percent of home energy usage. Yet that doesn't mean you're relegated to cold showers and dirty dishes; solar water heaters can reduce hot water bills by more than half.
If your roof receives six hours of southern or southeastern sun, it could be suitable for a solar water heater. Or the heater can be placed in a sunny spot on the ground near your home.
Although the price is hefty—$4,000-$5,000—federal and state tax credits cut the cost in half. If you're building a new home, consider rolling the cost into your mortgage, which would add $13-$20 to your monthly payment.
To learn more about solar water heaters, go to cleanenergydurham.org and click on "Resources."