Times are hard, and the economy has gone downhill, many things are out of your control as far as spending goes, but believe it or not there are some things that you CAN do about it! One way to take control of your finances is to switch to solar heating instead of conventional heating methods. It may not sound like much, but the fact is, that water heating can account for 14-25% of energy consumption. Water is something we use every day, from bathing, to washing dishes, watering plants, making ice cubes, and drinking. If you think about how much of the water needs to be heated, you'll realize how much energy you are potentially wasting every day.
By now you're wondering how to do this, after all, switching to a solar water heating system sounds so complicated! In fact, you're probably wondering exactly what solar water heating actually is. Fear not, we're here to help! Solar water heating systems usually consists of a water storage tank and a solar panel. The solar panel absorbs the energy from the sun, which heats the water, the water is then sent through your pipes. There are many different types of solar heaters, some better than others, and some more efficient than others, but the main ones you need to know about are listed below:
-A Passive System has a water tank inside or above the solar panel. The panel is always separate from the water tank in a passive system, and water flows naturally without any force.
-A Forced System has a pump, which forces the water to flow. Such a system is perfect for environments where the climate is cold and the water would be in danger of freezing inside the pipes--and believe me, you don't want frozen pipes, as they tend to crack.
-Integral Collector-Storage Systems have one or more black tanks, insulated tubes, etc. Cold water will pass through the solar collector, then continue to the backup tank, meaning that your water will be hot all the time. These should only be installed in moderate climates, as the pipes will freeze outdoors in a cold climate.
There are others, but they are generally used for commercial applications, and unnecessary for home use. Remember that since there are many types, there are likely ones that are more tailored to your needs than others. Take into account the amount of energy you consume, this will be directly related to the number of people in your household, and how much water they use on a daily basis. Another very important thing to note is that there are types that use electricity, and types that do not. The types without electricity will function during a blackout, whereas the types that use electricity will not.
It is important to note that these models will have a backup or emergency tank as an alternative way to heat the water. Such backups can be either gas or electric, and these will drive the annual operating costs up.
Cost is another thing to worry about, and it's true that a solar water heating system is not cheap, ranging in price from $1000, to $17,000. Yes, it's a lot of money, but consider the savings in the long run. When a conventional water heater uses anywhere from 14% to 25% of your energy, and installing a solar heater drops your water heating bill anywhere between 50% and 80%, you'll see that it pays for itself.
There are Heliodyne systems still running that were installed in the late 1970's. This system runs for $6300.00 and is relatively easy to install. It also qualifies for rebates and tax credits.
Now for the dirty part, installing a solar water heating system. From what you've read so far, it probably sounds very attractive. Saving money AND having hot water too! It sounds like a dream in this economy, and it certainly is, but make sure that your installation is done right, so that you can enjoy these benefits without the hassle of constant system breakdowns, otherwise you'll end up sinking more money into this already expensive system.
Locate a contractor that is qualified to install a solar water heating system. Installation can be complicated and difficult, unless you are qualified contractor yourself, keeping in mind that a plumber's license and a solar contractor's license is a required in some states to perform this installation.
Make sure you pick the system that is right for you! Most residential houses in North America and other countries use the Forced System. There are instances where a Passive System is acceptable, but that is out of the scope of this article.
Insulate your pipes- The solar collector alone won't do it all, make sure your pipes are insulated with foam, and consult a hardware store or a contractor for more information on this.
Perform Maintenance- Your pipes and pump won't perform upkeep on themselves, it is important to either pay someone to maintain your system, or learn to do it yourself. As for how often you need to maintain your system, you will need to talk to the company you bought the system from, or check the manual. Simply systems may need to be checked every 3-5 years, while systems with electrical components may need a replacement part after only two.
There are many companies that manufacture and sell solar water heating systems, and it is important for you to compare prices, and energy usage. Look in your yellow pages, or Go Here to begin your search for a more efficient and money saving method of producing hot water, putting money in your pocket, and warm water in your shower!
So now you know everything you need to know about solar water heating. You know that it's cheaper and more energy efficient than your standard water heater, and you know that it'll save you money. Money that can be used to buy important things like food and clothes for your family, and as I said before, in this economy, no money saving technique can be ignored and most certainly not one this big!