Solar hot water – info and tips
With a solar hot water system, your energy bills could be a fraction of what you pay if your current hot water system is generated by electricity or gas – especially electricity. Gas and electrical hot water systems can account for as much as 30% of the total energy use of a household. What’s more, conventional hot water systems aren’t great for your carbon footprint, being one of the biggest culprits when it comes to carbon emissions.
However, there are still many Australians who do not realise the potential of solar hot water systems. They have the potential to supply households with almost 100% of their hot water needs as well as significantly cutting the cost of energy bills, as mentioned.
Solar hot water systems work by heating the water in solar hot water tanks via the sunshine that solar hot water panels positioned on the rooftops attract. The water in these tanks can stay hot for a long time, so as long as care is taken as to when the hot water is utilised, solar hot water systems can be a reliable source of hot water, contrary to what many may believe. One recommended way to utilise hot water generated by solar power is to ensure all householders have their hot showers in the morning. That way, the cycle of water heating can take place throughout the day, creating an available supply of hot water for the following morning.
Of course, there are many variables when it comes to the effectiveness of hot water systems. The most obvious one is climate. In some states of Australia, such as Queensland, there is an abundance of sunshine all year round, unlike places like Melbourne that experience a high number of overcast days throughout the year. This doesn’t mean that people living in places with less sunny days annually like Melbourne should dismiss the idea of installing solar panels. In such climates, the installation of a booster switch is recommended. This allows for an increase in hot water to a household during a period of cloudy days. Conversely, it can be turned off during periods of consecutive sunny days.
If opting for a solar hot water system, it’s wise to ask your plumber to ensure that your hot water pipes are properly insulated. This is particularly important with regard to the pipes that connect the solar panels to the hot water tank.
This is a highly recommended safeguard against losing up to 50 percent of the sun’s energy that you are aiming to collect and retain.
When choosing a tank, go for a large one. As stated earlier, water is excellent at retaining its heat, therefore it pays to have an abundance of hot water at the ready, especially if your household has many occupants.
Whilst solar system hot water systems have a high upfront cost, in the long run, they will save you hundreds if used wisely. It may seem easier to choose a more conventional form of hot water heating, but with a little research and planning, you may find that replacing your electric or gas hot water system with a solar hot water system may be the best investment your family has ever made.