Solar Hot Water Systems
Energy-Efficient / Economical / Environmentally-Friendly
The installation of rooftop solar water heaters is rapidly increasing worldwide, with China and Western Europe leading the way. In Austria and Germany, about 30% percent of the installed solar thermal capacity involves combination systems designed to heat hot water and the home’s interior space. Solar hot water and space heating systems are also more prevalent in the western United States, where renewable energy sources are more widely accepted than in the east.
If you have been considering building a green home or renovating your current home to be more energy-efficient, economical and environmentally-friendly, you will want to think about installing a solar hot water system.
An electric hot water heater consumes the most electricity in a typical home, as much as 20% of the electric bill.
A typical adult uses 20 gallons of hot water per day. This varies, of course, based on whether the household members make a conscious effort to conserve water.
Solar hot water (or solar thermal) and photovoltaic technology are not the same. Photovoltaic systems convert sunlight directly into electricity, while solar hot water systems capture the sun’s heat energy to produce hot water, which is typically stored in a tank.
Solar thermal technologies work in a variety of climates and weather conditions. They continue to work even on overcast days and in winter.
Solar hot water systems can supply 50-80% of your hot water needs. They work in tandem with your conventional water heater via a simple, automatic control system.
Although a typical solar hot water system cannot currently produce 100% of the hot water a home needs year-round, it can reduce electricity consumption by as much as 20%.
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) financial incentives (up to $4,000 for residential and $25,000 for non-residential systems) and federal and state tax credits can reduce your out-of-pocket-installation costs by 50%.
Regular maintenance on simple systems by a solar contractor can be as infrequent as every 3–5 years.
The hot water is almost free once the initial installation cost is recovered through energy savings.
You will be helping our region and country move towards clean energy production through renewable sources and away from dependence on fossil fuel and nuclear energy sources, which are nonrenewable and polluting.
U.S. Department of Energy, “Heat Your Water with the Sun: A Consumer’s Guide”
NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) Solar Thermal Resources: “Fact Sheet”, “Myth-Busting Sheet”, etc.
Mother Earth News, “Harnessing the Sun’s Energy for Water and Space Heating”
For additional information
U.S. Department of Energy “Solar Water Heaters”
U.S. Department of Energy Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency
NYSERDA “Take the So Hot Challenge”
Joseph M. Contrada