It can be anywhere up to 28% of your utility bill and if you think about it, very little is actually used and will go straight down the drain. Clothes, dishes, baths, showers, cooking – essential things we take for granted need hot water.
Electric water heaters aren’t very eco-friendly
To generate the amount of electricity needed to heat water for a family of four, you’d use approximately 11.4 barrels of oil every year. If the family car drives 12,000 miles that same year at 22 miles per gallon, it still wouldn’t use that much oil.
A small change can make a huge difference
By lowering your thermostat to heat your water to a temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit down from 160, you can save yourself up to $270 a year on your energy bill (assuming 12 cents per kWh, electric heater, 64 gallons).
But you can eliminate hot water from your bill
By installing a solar water heating system, you not only help the environment, but you also reap the financial benefits in the long term. It’s not unreasonable to estimate that the investment into a small system can pay itself off in 6 years.
Solar water heating is relatively simple and affordable
You can either get a professional contractor to install a system or do it yourself. The simplest systems can be only a few hundred dollars, but the more expensive ones run into the thousands. If you do it yourself, make sure you know the regulations.
If you’re not ready for a big change, how about your pool?
You can dip your toe into the solar game by using solar power to heat your pool. Look at the difference it makes, the money you save and you can start to get an idea about solar heating your domestic water.
Just remember that water can be destructive
Fiddling around with plumbing if you’re inexperienced, or simply making a mistake can lead to flooding and other water-related damage to your property. But if you’re thinking about switching to solar, there are other things to think about.
Water hardness is important
If you have metal and especially copper parts of your solar water heating system that are in contact with water, it is vital that you establish whether your water is hard enough to worry about. Hard water will damage your pipes, so use a water softener to prevent this.
Water freezing is a danger
Water expands when it freezes, and can often burst pipes and damage other equipment. A solar water heating system is significantly more expensive than your standard heating system so make sure you understand the risks. Closed-loop systems using antifreeze and a heat exchanger are the most common solution.
Water burning is a danger
Sounds like an oxymoron but you can get badly scalded by water from a solar water heating system. Water above 160 degrees Fahrenheit can burn you badly enough to need hospital treatment so just make sure you install your system correctly.
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