Solar energy sounds so cool and even downright sexy.
The idea of using the power of the sun to provoke electricity and heat is both enticing and a bit overwhelming. You’ve adjusted to separating your papers from plastics and glass from recycling but the idea of converting an entire house to an alternative energy source can be absolutely daunting. Rest assured there are intermediary steps between the two extremes. Heating your home’s water with passive solar power is a manageable and affordable first step.
Harvesting sunlight to heat your home’s water can significantly reduce your reliance on nonrenewable energy sources and shrink your carbon footprint. Options range widely in both price and effectiveness and include flat-plate collectors, which are shallow boxes typically mounted on the roof of a home and acts as a heat exchanger to collect the sun’s energy to heat the home’s water system. They typically range close to $1K and are the most economical of the solar energy options for your home.
Integral collector-storage systems are very similar to flat plates, but the heat tubes inside the box are much bigger in diameter. Other solar water heating systems include evacuated-tube solar collectors, direct circulation systems, indirect circulation systems, and integral collector-storage passive systems.
If you’re ready to take this step, research what’s the very best option for your home. Home Power, Inc., is a great resource to help you make this decision offering well-researched articles and a variety of solar energy options for your home.
Another great resource is the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. The most important thing is that you heavily research your investment and arm yourself with knowledge that will help you make the best decision for your home size, climate, and financial health.
How much you save and how soon you recoup your initial investment depends on a wide variety of factors, such as the size and efficiency of your water heater, level of usage, and your geographical location.
The initial investment for a small-to-medium range system with an 80-gallon storage tank, for instance, can be made for around $3,500, and you’ll be making an immediate impact on both the environment and your power bill. Depending on how much hot water you use, you can expect your system to have fully paid for itself within about four years. After that, you’re heating water for free, with costs limited to standard maintenance on your system.
Amen to that!
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