Environmental issues have always accompanied humans’ quest for warmth and light. Cave markings clearly show how wood fires left behind ash and smoke residue. The smoggy cities of the Industrial Revolution were another sign that energy for human comfort came at a price. Today we face the biggest environmental threat of all through climate change, fueled by the emissions of carbon dioxide from fuels for automobiles, airplanes, trains and most of all, electricity. This is where Solar Hot Water Systems take center stage in the new environmental movement.
More and more homeowners are thinking seriously of switching to Solar Hot Water for both, economic as well as environmental reasons. For example, were you aware that a hot water heater is the biggest “power hog” in the home? That’s right; hot water heaters account for 35 to 40 percent of the average home energy cost. When you factor in the environmental impact of burning oil to create the electricity that runs a conventional hot water heater, that’s an enormous expense!
In contrast, the thought behind the invention of Solar Hot Water Systems is simple: Take light from the Sun, which radiates constantly down on earth, and convert it into heat. This transfer is accomplished by a device called a solar collector panel, in which a darkened surface collects the visible and ultraviolet light and translates it into infrared radiation through a heat exchange. Solar panels are covered in glass to insulate and trap the heat, which in turn warms up water stored in a tank for home use.
What happens when the sun doesn’t shine? Even on cloudy days, ultraviolet radiation showers down on earth, so it’s possible for the collectors in a solar hot water system to continue to produce power to heat water. When the weather is extremely rainy or cold, a gas or electric booster augments the system to keep Solar Hot Water always available for home use.
Environmentally, Solar Hot Water Systems create the lowest amounts of carbon dioxide emissions of any kind of water heater. Changing from electric- or gas-fueled water heaters to solar-powered systems can reduce a household’s CO2 emissions from 3 to 5 tonnes per year. Imagine how much CO2 could be reduce if all capable households switched to Solar Hot Water!
Economically, the savings from switching to Solar Hot Water Systems depends on the home’s location, amount of water used, the kind of system that’s being replaced, tariffs or taxes on energy, and the model of solar water heater the homeowner chooses. However, federal government estimates show that homeowners can save about $300 per year on their energy bills. Plus, federal rebates and incentives can result in upfront savings that offset the cost of installation.
What’s more, while Solar Hot Water Systems may have a higher upfront investment than tradition gas or electric water heaters, the operating cost remains fairly stable year after year. This means that unlike the burden of constantly rising electricity bills for water heating, Solar Hot Water produces significant savings over the life of the unit. A recent real estate survey in Australia also found that a majority of homeowners with Solar Hot Water Systems think their units enhance the value of their properties.
Using renewable energy from the sun to create hot water, cut down carbon dioxide emissions and save money is a combination that makes good sense!