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 are solar thermal panels fixed to the roof?
- If you have a typical roof, solar thermal panels are usually fixed to your roof using rigid stainless steel brackets that are fixed directly to your roof rafters. The only roof type that can't have solar thermal panels fitted is a thatched roof.
- How much do solar thermal collectors weigh?
- It depends on the make, but in they usually weigh in the region of about 20kg per square metre. Typical panels can measure around 2m x 1m or 2m x 2m, with 5m2 needed for the average installation.
- How hot does solar heated water get?
- Very hot! The water can easily exceed 100°C, therefore it is important that the components are able to withstand these temperatures. All MCS certified products will be able to do so.
- Can I power my solar thermal water circulation pump with a solar photovoltaic (PV) panel?
- It is possible to do this, but these systems end up being less efficient as there will be times when there isn't enough sunshine for the solar PV panel to work, but there is a need for heating from your solar thermal system which will require the circulation pump to work.
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