Home Efficiency: Solar Water Heaters

  • By Jeremy Thompson
  • 15 Jul, 2013
Solar water heaters are simply water storage tanks and a solar collection system. ENERGY STAR qualified solar water heating systems can purportedly cut your yearly hot water costs in half. Such systems are designed to be used with a back-up water heating system. If you combine a solar system with a back-up gas water heater, […] The post Home Efficiency: Solar Water Heaters appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
Besides the money saving benefit, using a solar water heater is an investment in the environment. Use of a solar water heater cuts your carbon dioxide emissions in half. In fact, ENERGY STAR claims a solar water heater cuts the load of your electric water heater by as much as 2,500 kWh per year, in turn preventing 4,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from releasing into the atmosphere each year.
The cost of purchasing a solar water heating system may take up to 10 years to recoup, BUT there are tax credits you can take advantage of to minimize the expense. Through the ENERGY STAR program, solar water heaters qualify for a tax credit. The credit extends through 2016 and covers 30% of the cost, including installation and labor. The system must be installed in a home you own and use as a residence. In order for the system to qualify for the credit, at least half of the energy generated by the solar water heater system must come from the sun and the system must be certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation .
The ENERGY STAR programs recommends to first determine if your site is suitable for a solar water heating before you purchase one. A solar water heater contractor can help you evaluate the site as well as recommend a system type that best suits your needs. For a solar water heating system to work effectively, your roof must receive direct sunlight from 10 AM to 4 PM and face south.
When contacting a solar contractor, find one who can not only assess the site and install the system, but ideally find one that can provide routine maintenance. Use a contractor certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) . A directory of installers can be found at seia.org .
The average lifespan of a solar water heating system is about 20 years, which is longer than most gas or electric water heaters. For efficient operation, it’s important to maintain the system on a routine basis. While a qualified contractor can maintain it annually, you’ll need to know how to check it on a regular basis to ensure it’s operating properly. If you live in an area that has hard water, you may have to add de-scaling agents to the water.
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Photo Credit, Jim, the Photographer

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