Solar Water Heaters 101

solar water heater

Looking for new ways to reduce your carbon footprint? Want to take a step beyond what everyone else is doing in order to really make an impact on the planet? There are many ways you can go about reducing your carbon footprint, but one way that can help, in more ways than one, is by installing and using solar water heaters in your home (and your pool if you have one).

Using solar water heaters can also save the average household a great deal of money on their energy bills each year. estimates that using hot water that has been preheated by the sun can eliminate the costs of heating the water by as much as half. reports that the average household spends between $400 and $600 each year on hot water heating alone – putting your savings in the realm of $200-300 per year, and eliminating the fossil fuel consumption and pollution associated with those costs.

What is a Solar Water Heating?

Quite simply, it’s the act of harnessing the heat of the sun, through a solar collector, to heat the water you use in your home. Depending on where in the country you live, you may or may not be able to rely on this method of heating your water year round.

For instance, people who live in areas where winter is substantially colder may have difficulty heating the water efficiently enough during winter months. That is why most solar water heating systems work in conjunction with the home’s gas or electric hot water heater.

Benefits of Solar Water Heating

Before you make a decision about whether this is the right move for you and your household, it’s a good idea to explore exactly what benefits this method of heating water has to offer. These are just a few benefits that make it a worthwhile investment for people actively interested in living more sustainable lifestyles or reducing carbon footprints.

  • This method of heating water is available throughout the year in some areas of the U.S., and easily used in conjunction with existing water heating sources (gas and electricity) to maintain a consistent water temperature in areas that have more noticeable winters.
  • You have the option of several different collection and circulation methods when it comes to solar heated water as well as the adaptability of using solar water heating in concert with your current water heating sources, such as electricity or gas.
  • Pollutant Free – Perhaps one of the most important benefits of solar water heating to environmentally conscious consumers is the fact that it yields zero emissions. This means you need to feel no guilt over taking nice warm showers (provided you’re paying proper attention to water conservation efforts)!
  • Low Costs – While most people who have invested heavily into protecting the planet believe there is no cost too high to pay to preserve the planet for future generations, it’s sometimes a welcome relief to know that you can do good things for the earth without breaking the bank to do so. This happens to be one that helps you save money, conserve resources, and know you’re doing something great for the planet at the same time.

What You Should Know about Solar Water Heating

It’s important to understand that solar water heaters are not meant to replace existing water heaters. They actually work by preheating the water using the warmth of the sun so that the water system requires less energy in order to operate.

Because of this, you can have hot water at any time of the day or night and during any season of the year. You can also set the hot water heater to a temperature you and your family finds comfortable, and expect water that is consistently heated to that temperature.

Choosing the Right System for Your Home

You have many options to consider when you make the decision to invest in solar heating systems for your water heater. Understanding a few basics about each can help you choose the most effective system for your home and the needs of your family.

Closed Loop Active System

This system is considered an active system because it requires a pump to circulate the liquid. It works by using a heat transfer liquid that has a higher boiling and lower freezing point than water for indirect heating.

It works by circulating liquid through the solar collector where it gathers heat energy before traveling to the heat exchanger coil, which acts as a heating element, within the water tank. This system handles hard water better than other systems currently available.

Closed Loop Passive System

Understanding that hot water rises and cold water sinks, the closed loop passive system circulates the heat transfer unit without the assistance of a pump, making it a “passive” system for heating water. Some refer to this system as a thermosiphon system.

Integral Collector System

In this system, the water is stored in the collectors themselves. It does add weight to the roof of your home, but is a highly efficient system for heating water.

Why Use Solar Water Heating?

There are many reasons people turn to the power of the sun for heating water, including all of the following, and a few reasons that are left up to the individuals.

Planet Friendly

Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels is a good thing overall. This means that every step you take to use less energy, like adding a solar water heater to your home, is a step in the right direction.

Off-Grid Living

Many people are making the move to “off grid” living and lifestyles. They’re looking for ways to reduce dependence upon the government for utilities and such. Solar powered water heaters allow them to continue enjoying certain creature comforts while reducing reliance on community energy resources.

Reduce Utility Costs

In certain parts of the country, the costs of heating water can be quite high. Making a move to conserve energy through the use of solar powered water heating cuts costs resulting in substantial savings over the course of a year.

While saving the planet is certainly a worthy cause on its own, people who make the move to solar powered water heating enjoy so many more benefits worth considering. Keep this in mind as you explore your options for a more sustainable, planet-friendly lifestyle.

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