Every home with southern exposure should have a solar hot water system.
Every dairy, every cheese maker, every inn, every hotel, every restaurant, every laundromat, every school, and every other business or institution that uses hot water should have a solar hot water system.
These assertions are not political statements. These declarations are not made for marketing purposes. These are statements founded on the author’s well-informed opinion. Sure, I am a solar thermal professional, but I don’t believe in solar hot water because I’m in the solar thermal business. Quite the contrary! I am in the solar thermal business because I believe in solar hot water. It is my personal mission to educate people about the importance of solar hot water as a key solution to our energy, economic, and environmental challenges. I won’t rest until every south-facing roof in America has solar thermal collectors! (…Hopefully, I’ll live that long!)
Since you’re reading the Green Energy Times, odds are that you’re a “green-minded” person. You probably recycle, you eat locally grown organic food, you’re well educated about environmental issues, you’re troubled about our dependence on fossil fuels, you believe in global climate change (and gravity!), and you are worried about your carbon footprint.
You have installed CFL and LED light bulbs in your home, and you may even drive a Prius or other fuel-efficient automobile. You’re one of our planet’s good guys! But…do you have a solar hot water system in your home? If you answered, “YES,”….Thank you! You are already part of the solar solution. But, unfortunately, chances are good that your answer was, “NO.”
I don’t need to ask why you haven’t installed a solar hot water system, because I know your answer would be, “I can’t afford it!”
So, to further my mission as a self-appointed Ambassador for Solar Hot Water, I have provided the following economic and environmental arguments. Hopefully, these arguments will help persuade you to add a solar thermal system to your home or business:
You use a LOT of hot water.
You probably use more than you realize. Hot water represents the second largest energy user in American households. Most people don’t notice their energy bills for heating their water because those bills are mixed in with their total electric, fuel oil, propane, or natural gas bills. Statistics indicate that a typical conventional hot water system for an American family of four will consume approximately 150 million BTUs in its seven-year lifetime, and will cost from $3,600 to $7,000 to operate. That means we Americans consume more than 2,000 TRILLION BTUs and spend 75 BILLION DOLLARS to heat our domestic water every year. That number doesn’t include hot water used by businesses, institutions, and industries!
WOW! Those are HUGE numbers! In these days of public discussion about federal budget issues in the billions and trillions of dollars, we have become desensitized to enormous numeric terms. But, trust me. We Americans spend a lot of money, we burn millions of barrels of fossil fuels, and we add megatons of carbon to our overloaded atmosphere for the purpose of heating water for our showers and washing our dishes. That practice is needlessly wasteful, because the sun provides abundant, pollution free, no-cost heat every day.
Solar hot water systems really work.
Solar thermal technology is simple. Solar hot water systems consist of collection, storage, and delivery of solar radiation. This simple formula can provide a significant, positive impact on our planet and our pocketbooks. A properly sited and sized solar hot water system in each home would save as much as 65 percent, or more, of conventional hot water expense!
Just think of the savings to our national economy if American households had solar hot water systems! We could save more than TEN BILLION DOLLARS a year if only 25% of American households installed solar hot water systems.
Yes, even in New England, solar hot water systems are very effective. The sun provides thermal energy even on cloudy days in the form of ultraviolet radiation. Contemporary solar hot water systems provide highly efficient solar heat collection and storage, and are built to last 20 to 30 years. It is rewarding to me that our solar hot water customers say they are pleasantly surprised that their solar hot water systems work much better than they had expected. People are often amazed when their 50°F well water is heated by the sun to 140°F in just a few hours.
Solar hot water systems ARE affordable.
In addition to 30% federal income tax credits for qualified solar hot water systems, all New England states provide various types of financial incentives.
Several banks offer “Green Loan” financing programs with low-cost interest rates. Payment plans can be structured to cost less per month than you are paying now in conventional hot water heating expense.
If you invest cash in the installation of a new solar hot water system, you will earn more than a 12% return on your investment, the value of your home will be increased by more than the net cost of the system, and your system will pay itself off through energy savings in six to ten years. (Some experts say that solar hot water is actually “FREE” because your investment pays such high dividends over a 20 to 30 year period.)
Solar hot water is the most cost-effective, energy efficient form of renewable energy.
Renewable energy professionals agree on this fact.
After tightening your building to assure its energy efficiency, your next green step should be the installation of a solar hot water system.
Solar hot water is a No-Brainer for us Greenies!
Call a local solar thermal professional in your area today for a solar site evaluation, and start saving energy and money tomorrow!
You should become part of the solar solution.
For a primer about the nuts and bolts of solar hot water systems, please refer to the excellent article published in Green Energy Times, Issue 8, page 11, contributed by Southface Design/Build of Brownsville, Vermont.
By Karen Lee, Solar Pro, Arlington, VT with many thanks from Green Energy Times for this and all that you do!
GET Aug2011 page 13