Georgetown October 9, 2014: Solar water heaters make use of the sun’s energy through ‘solar thermal’ technology. What this means is that the sun’s energy is harnessed and converted into heat.
With growing concerns of global climate change and our dependence on costly fossil fuels that are dangerous to our environment, solar water heaters present an opportunity to not only reduce energy consumption and costs, but assist in reducing our carbon foot print.
Designed for hot climates, solar water heaters can be a cost effective way to generate hot water for use in homes, hotels, hospitals and industries.
How they work:
The basic technology for solar water heater systems is very simple. The systems use solar collectors that are fitted to your roof. Sunlight strikes and heats the ‘absorber’ surface within the ‘solar collector’. As water flows through the tubes attached to the solar collector, heat is absorbed and the heated water is stored for use on demand. Solar water heaters are usually designed with a back-up mechanism to heat the water during periods of extended cloud cover.
Most solar water heaters are installed on the roof. For best results, your roof should receive direct sunlight between the hours of 10 AM to 3 PM. The consumer has direct control over the system, and unlike electric water heaters, hot water is available even during a power outage.
Sizing your System and Cost:
Just as you have chosen a 30, 40, 50 gallon electric water heater, you need to determine the right size solar water heater to install. Sizing a solar water heater involves determining the total collector area and the storage volume required to provide 100% of your household’s hot water needs.
A 50-gallon electric water heater will cost about 1 million dollars over its 10-year life, BUT an equally-sized solar water heater will only have a one-time cost of about $330,000 and will serve your hot water needs for more than 20 years.
Once you recover the higher initial costs of a solar system through reduced or avoided energy costs, your solar system will require expenditures only for maintenance. The following table outlines the size, lifespan and cost of three different sizes:
- Reduction in electricity bills: sunlight is free, so once you’ve paid for the initial installation your hot water costs will be reduced.
- Using solar energy has a positive impact on the environment by reducing the use of nonrenewable energy sources to heat water.
- Solar energy is safe, efficient, reliable and non-polluting.
- Cut your carbon footprint: solar hot water is a green, renewable heating system and can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions.
- The consumer has direct control over the system, and unlike electric water heaters, hot water is available even during a power outage.
- Once you recover the higher initial costs of a solar system through reduced or avoided energy costs, your solar system will require expenditures only for maintenance.
- By changing your electric water heater to solar water heater, you can drastically reduce your electricity consumption.
- Because of the benefits of solar water heating, adding a unit to your home will also increase its value. Hence, you could end up getting back whatever money you put into a solar heating system when you sell your house.
If you’re looking to make your home as energy-efficient as possible and are looking for new opportunities to reduce your energy consumption, it may be a good time to go solar. Solar water heaters are one of the best ways to make use of the sun as a renewable source of energy.
The Guyana energy agency has commenced talks with hotel owners and managers about the benefits of solar water heaters. The Agency is willing to provide technical advice if needed to hoteliers and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information can be obtained from the Agency’s website www.gea.gov.gy.