The benefits of solar hot water
Solar hot water systems deliver reasonable financial benefits when the Renewable Heat Incentive and RHPP are taken into account:
- Reduced heating costs: By converting free sunlight into heat, you can reduce your heating and hot water bill by as much as £80 a year, with the RHPP scheme giving a grant of £300. With the Renewable Heat Incentive included, this saving will be even greater.
- Reduced carbon footprint: Energy from the sun produces no carbon dioxide or other harmful greenhouse gases.
- Hot water all year: The system works all year round, though you'll need to heat the water further with a boiler or immersion heater during the winter months.
- Low maintenance: Most solar water heating systems come with a 5-10 year warranty and require little maintenance.
Solar water-heating can provide you with about half of your hot water needs. In a study by BRE, 6 houses fitted with solar water heating were monitored and the energy savings in heating and hot water varied from 26 – 70%. The average was 50%, which is an average saving of 1,200 kWh of energy per year.
Energy Saving Trust studies suggest savings based on the hot water and heating requirements of a 3 bed semi-detached home with a 3.4m2 collector are £80 a year for a home using electricity, and £55 per year for a gas heated home.
What to do next?
- Do I need to replace my hot water cylinder to get a solar thermal panels installed?
- If your hot water cylinder is not large enough for a second heating coil it will need to be replaced with a larger 'solar cylinder' specially designed for use with solar thermal panels. The cylinder needs to be larger because it has to accommodate your boiler/immersion heater's heating coil as well as the heating coil from the solar thermal system.
- 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.
- Will my roof be strong enough to take solar thermal panels?
- Most roofs are strong enough to take a solar thermal installation without any reinforcement. Your installer will be able to advise you further; you can find out more about the Installation of Solar Thermal Panels here.
- Do I need permission from Building Control to install solar thermal panels?
- A buildings notice is usually not required for solar thermal panels as long as the units are below a certain height when installed. This will depend on your local authority, and whether your building is listed or in a conservation area, so you should contact your local office to confirm. You can find more information about Planning permission for solar panels here.
- 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.
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