Why should I use solar energy to heat my water?
We all know about the use of solar energy for providing power nowadays, it’s everywhere from someone on your street trying their best to go green to huge energy production centres trying to reduce their carbon footprint for the sake of the planet. But nobody really talks about using solar energy to provide hot water for your house?
Using solar energy in this way is known as solar thermal heating, which isn’t to be confused with solar photovoltaic (or solar PV) systems which produce electricity using sunlight. Because it doesn’t need fossil fuels, it’s available to a practically unlimited extent and doesn’t leave a carbon footprint, so why don’t more people use solar energy to heat their homes?
Let’s start with how it works. Think about it as if it’s a dark garden hose, laying outside on a nice sunny day. The sunlight beams down and the outer surface of the hose absorbs the sunlight and the heat radiation that is given off, meaning that the water contained within is also heated. This, in principle, is how solar water heating works.
The solar collectors absorb the sunlight and a special fluid contained within is heated. This is then moved via a pump to the heat exchanger contained within the storage unit. The thermal energy is then transmitted to a water storage tank where it is used to heat the water to be used within the home.
In some cases, it’s possible that this will need to be utilised alongside an existing combi boiler and cylinder, but on average, the solar thermal system provides approximately 60% of the necessary energy required to meet the hot water needs for the whole year.
This covers everything that requires hot water within your home. From your kitchen and bathroom taps through to your radiators, your home can be heated using energy provided free of charge from the sun!
It even has a positive effect on your bank balance. Because you become less reliant on gas to heat your home, using solar thermal systems to provide hot water and heating can trim huge amounts off your energy bills, giving you more money to spend on what you enjoy rather than what you need. On average you’re looking at 60% less energy required to heat your water and 35% less for heating rooms, meaning that if you are charged £100 for your water heating and £100 to heat your home, you’re trimming your bill down from £200 to a total of £105 (which is almost 50% off your monthly bill).
So really, there’s no downside to using solar energy to heat your home. You’re using an energy source that isn’t going to run out any time soon (unless you’re immortal in which case, we’re sorry), you’re significantly reducing your carbon footprint which is helping to save the environment and provide a better future for your children and it’s shaving huge amounts off your monthly bills, there really is no reason that you shouldn’t be using solar energy to heat your water!