How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint By Switching to Solar Water Heaters

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint By Switching to Solar Water Heaters

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint By Switching to Solar Water Heaters

What is a solar water heater?

A solar water heater is a system that uses energy from the sun to heat water for residential and commercial use. It consists of solar thermal collectors mounted on the roof that absorb heat from sunlight. This heat is transferred to a storage tank where the water is heated. The hot water is then available for activities like washing, bathing, and cleaning.

Solar water heaters use renewable solar energy instead of electricity or gas to heat water. This makes them an environmentally friendly technology that can help reduce your carbon footprint.

How do solar water heaters work?

Solar water heaters work through the following process:

  • Solar thermal collectors mounted on the roof are made of copper or aluminum with a black coating to absorb sunlight.

  • The sun’s energy heats up a heat transfer fluid flowing through the collectors. This is usually a glycol-based antifreeze solution.

  • The hot heat transfer fluid then flows into the storage tank, transferring its heat to the water.

  • The cooler heat transfer fluid then flows back to the collectors to be heated again.

  • Pumps circulate the heat transfer fluid through the system.

  • The storage tank insulates the heated water, keeping it warm for use.

  • Controllers monitor and modulate the pumps and valves to efficiently operate the system.

  • The hot water is delivered for use while cold water refills the storage tank.

Benefits of switching to solar water heaters

Installing a solar water heater can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Here are some of the main benefits:

  • Reduced electricity use – Solar heaters can replace up to 80% of your hot water needs, reducing electricity consumption.

  • Lower energy bills – With less need to heat water using electricity or gas, you can save substantially on utility bills.

  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions – Solar heaters produce no direct emissions. They can prevent 6 to 12 tons of CO2 emissions over their lifetime.

  • Renewable energy – Solar energy is free and unlimited once your heater is installed. It won’t run out like fossil fuels.

  • Minimal maintenance – Solar heaters have a long lifespan of 15-30 years. They require very little maintenance.

  • Tax credits and incentives – You can take advantage of tax credits, rebates, and incentives for installing a solar water heater.

Sizing and selecting a solar water heater

The size and type of solar water heater you need depends on several factors:

  • Your location – The solar radiation and climate affect system performance.

  • Number of occupants – More people require more hot water capacity.

  • Hot water demand – Frequency and volume of hot water needed impacts size.

  • Type of building – Residential, commercial and pool systems differ.

  • Type of collector – Unglazed, flat plate or evacuated tube. Each has pros and cons.

  • Storage tank capacity – More capacity provides hot water backup.

  • Backup heating – You need a supplementary electric or gas heater for cloudy days.

Consult with qualified solar professionals to properly size and configure your system. They can assess your needs and recommend the ideal solutions.

Installing and maintaining a solar water heater

Here are some tips for installing and maintaining your solar water heater:

  • Hire qualified installers to handle permitting, connections and leak testing.

  • The collectors need unshaded south-facing roof space. Allow for future shading from trees.

  • Angle collectors 10-15 degrees more than your latitude for winter optimization.

  • Have electric or plumbing updates done to integrate the heater if needed.

  • Consider freeze protection if you live in cold climates.

  • Inspect collectors, mounts and connections annually for leaks and corrosion.

  • Flush storage tanks as needed to prevent scale buildup and bacterial growth.

  • Monitor controller and pump function. Keep the PV panel clean.

  • Have a solar contractor service the system every 3-5 years for optimal performance.

Start enjoying lower bills and smaller carbon footprint

Switching to a solar water heater is an excellent way to shrink your home’s carbon footprint. With reduced utility bills and sustainable operation for decades, solar water heaters are a smart long-term investment in your family’s future. Consult local solar companies to explore your options and find the right system to meet your needs. With a properly installed and maintained heater, you’ll enjoy an abundant supply of hot water produced free of charge by the sun.