The best way to improve solar energy efficiency and save home energy is by installing a solar water heating system at home. And although the equipment (a handful of pipes, tanks, pumps, valves, and insulating materials) used for making a solar water heater cost actual dollars, the energy that keeps them running for long periods of time is free-sunshine! Using solar water heaters as the main source of hot water for your home (because there is still the need for a backup conventional electric water heater during the nights and dark and cloudy days) is a cost-effective way to meet your hot water requirements. It is also a helpful way to reduce the need for non-renewable energy and your home’s carbon emissions. Here are six steps to follow if you wish to have a solar water heater installed in your own home:
1. Find out whether or not your site is compatible for the installation of a solar water heater. The availability of sunlight is, of course, the most important consideration. In countries like the United Kingdom solar water heaters are not fully taken advantage of because cloudy skies take over most of the year. In contrast, Australian homes and homes in the southern states of the U.S. will benefit much because they enjoy sunshine at full blast for most of the year. If you are not sure about whether or not your site receives enough sunlight for a solar water heater, observe the number of hours of sunlight-six hours is the optimal amount of sun exposure for adequate water heating. You should also make sure that the roof of your house is sturdy enough to support a solar heating system. If not, think of getting a ground-mounted system instead.
2. Determine the type of water heater most appropriate for promoting the most solar energy efficiency. Different types of environments and various water heating needs should influence the choice of solar water heater you choose. Doing your research on the different types of systems and how they operate is very helpful, and so is consulting an expert on solar energy. Check the label of your conventional electric water heater to determine the capacity for the solar water heater.
3. Look for a reliable solar contractor. Most likely, you will need their services for evaluating your home’s suitability for a solar water heating system, give you recommendations on your choice of heater, install the system, and visit every now and then for maintenance checkups and repairs. Ask for references from friends and family and check with the local Better Business Bureau on the reputation of your chosen contractor. Remember, too, to always request transactions to be put down in writing.
4. Find out if there are incentives for having a solar water heater installed in your home. If you purchase an EnergyStar-qualified system, you are eligible for a tax exemption equivalent to 30% of the cost of the heating system. Rebates and other tax credits may also be availed of depending on your local or state government’s policies on incentives to save home energy.
5. Be sure that solar water heating system is properly maintained and functioning. Although it is the solar contractor’s job to visit every now and then to clean up the system, it is your job as owner of the house and recipient of the benefits of a solar water heater to make sure that the system is in good shape. Inspect your water heater and make sure that the water collector is always out in full sunlight and is properly sealed and insulated. Yellowing or cracks on the collectors is a sign for replacement. Also, make sure that the pipes are free of mineral deposits that diminish the heating effectiveness of solar energy and that the valves on the pumps are not stuck.
6. To further improve the solar energy efficiency of your home, practice a few more simple measures to save more energy. Things like minimizing your hot water usage and adjusting the thermostat to lower temperatures greatly help in diminishing your energy requirements.