A solar home: For most people, this idea conjures up images of photovoltaic (PV) panels on rooftops constantly producing electricity to power their computer, TV or perhaps even an electric car. Even if you knew that there is another type of solar that can help you save money, even in the shower?
A solar water heater is a system that directly uses the sun’s energy as an energy source for heating domestic hot water. Just like solar PV, a solar hot water system uses solar collectors (usually installed on the roof of a house), to capture the sun’s rays. However, these collectors are slightly different from the photovoltaic panels you may be familiar with.
There are two types of solar hot water collectors (also known as solar thermal). The most common is called a flat collector. It consists of a series of tubes inside a glass panel, supported by a heat-absorbing layer. The other type is called a vacuum tube collector and is made from a series of borosilicate tubes, the same type of glass used to make Pyrex and laboratory glassware. Both types of solar collectors contain fluid, which heats up in the sun and then circulates in a heat exchanger installed in the hot water tank. There, heat is transferred from the fluid in the pipes to the domestic hot water in the tank, ready for the next time you need to shower or wash the dishes. Most systems also include a backup energy source for water heating, such as electric or gas.
How does solar hot water save money?
Consider this: Even in a cool, temperate climate like Germany or Wisconsin, a solar water heater can easily produce 50-70 percent of your hot water needs. In a warmer area, this number could reach 80 percent, according to Energy.gov. As you can imagine, this translates into paying half or less of your annual water bill.
You can easily expect a solar water heater to last 20 years, much longer than a conventional water heater. However, many solar water heaters still work fine after 30 or more years. Remember that with solar hot water, fuel is free. Once the system has paid for itself, it can provide free heat for years. Also, as fuel prices tend to rise over time, you will save more the longer your system lasts.
Does this mean it would be a good idea to order one right away?
A solar water heater is a significant investment that makes more financial sense for some homes than others. The best way to find out if your home is suitable for solar hot water is to contact a qualified solar installer. The installer will visit your home to determine if it makes sense to install a solar thermal system. Some of the factors it will analyze include how much sunlight your property gets and how much hot water you use in the family. Typically, the more hot water used, the better the return on investment on a solar water heating system.
Finally, if you’re buying a new home and are able to bundle the installation costs on your mortgage, you may even enjoy a positive cash flow return from your water heater with virtually no money.
Michael Kogler, REAL ESTATE AGENT
MIKE KOGLER TEAM: # 1 Sales Team
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. | Christies International Real Estate
Delaware Coastal Properties Division
37156 Rehoboth Ave., Ext.
Rehoboth Beach, DE. 19971
Cell: (302) 236-7648
Spider web: www.MikeKogler.com
Henlopen Sales and Rentals: www.HenlopenRB.com