According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration the average household using heating oil will spend about $2490* this heating season. Let’s assume you use two solar heating collectors that roughly cost you $2900 when all is said and done. Assuming it offsets 30% of your heating and for simplicity’s sake the cost of heating oil isn’t going to go up (yeah, unlikely), then you’d save about $830 per year in heating fuel costs ($2490 times 30%).
How many years until your investment is paid off and you start earning effectively big dividends/interest? That would be $2900 investment cost divided by $830 saving per year which equal about 3.5 years. So holy smokes - clearly after the 4th year your are saving $830+ per year in heating costs or getting a 28-29% return per year on your original investment (i.e. $830 savings per year divided by $2900 initial investment)! I’d like to see anyone get that out of their 401k or any stock market investment - or even half of that.
To make matters even better (or worse for 401k’s), most solar air heaters sold commercially are rugged and can be expected to last decades with minimum maintenance. So your original investment will give you great returns for a very long time.
With such a fast return on your investment, installing a solar air heater on your colder climate home is even financially smarter than installing a solar electric system. So don’t put your money into Wall St - smartly put it into your future, your home and your stability.