Heat from the sun can be captured and used to warm domestic hot water for use in heating systems and as hot water.
Solar thermal is similar to Solar Electricity (PV) except that the sun’s energy is not converted to electricity but used to heat water instead, saving you energy and money. Collectors fixed to a roof absorb the sun’s heat and transfer this heat to the water in your system.
Solar water heating systems use solar panels called collectors, which are fitted to your roof. These collect heat from the sun and use it to warm water, which is stored in a hot water cylinder. A conventional boiler or immersion heater is then used to make the water hotter, or to provide hot water when solar energy is unavailable.
By installing a solar thermal system you will be able to reduce your heating bill by between £55 and £80 per year according to the Energy Saving Trust and Which suggests that if you are replacing electric central heating you could save £90 a year on your water heating costs
Solar thermal systems are also eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive and the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme which currently offers a £300 grant towards the cost of solar water heating installations. If you would have difficulty paying for the installation costs, you can get a loan to cover this through the government’s Green Deal scheme. This scheme collects your loan payments from the savings you make on your monthly energy bill. Your payments should never be more than your savings, which means that the installation doesn’t cost you money you wouldn’t have spent anyway. For more information on the Green Deal scheme take a look at our Green Deal page.
- Are solar thermal panels eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)?
- The Renewable Heat Incentive is scheduled to be launched in the Summer of 2013, but systems installed before then will be eligible to receive payments through the scheme as long as an MCS accredited installer carries out the work. MCS accredited installations are also eligible for a £300 grant through the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme, available now.
- How much space do I need on my roof for a solar thermal installation?
- Typical installations have panels occupying 4.6 - 6.9m2 of roof area.
- What guarantees should I expect with solar thermal panels?
- These will vary between makes, but typically solar thermal collectors should be guaranteed for around 10 years. Other components and labour are usually guaranteed for 5 years.
- Can I heat my house and my hot water using solar thermal?
- Currently no solar thermal system installed in the UK will be able to fully meet your heating and hot water needs. Aside from the fact that the UK is generally a less sunny country, during the winter months when sunshine is minimal you will definitely need a back up source of water heating such as an immersion heater.
- Can I heat my swimming pool with solar thermal panels?
- Yes, Solar thermal water heating can be a very effective for pools.
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