Saving Energy – One Solar Water Heater At A Time

You are probably wondering why am so fixated on heating and cooling. Reason is simple. Heating and cooling of water and space constitutes more than half of total consumed energy. Any cutdown there makes huge difference.

So water heating comprises of around 13% of total household energy consumption according to this wikipedia article. Estimates at different places differ, but everybody agrees that it is somewhere between 10% to 18%. So if you are paying $400 in utility bills, you are paying around $60 on water heating bills, which is about the same as your TV cable bill or your phone bill. Most of us constantly try to hunt around for better deals of cable TV and phones, but rarely we do pay attention to water heater that sits in a closet away from sight and silently heats away the money. Bookshelves are full about books that tell you how it is stupid to throw away your money in rent and how it is smart to buy house so that you can build equity. But why people do not pay attention to this economy aspect of being energy efficient? After all, you do not get interest or dividend on utility bills! That is money down the drain as well.

If you install a solar water heater, the initial expenses is all that you have to spend. Do not go on just the price tag of $2000 to $3000. There is a federal 30% tax credit that brings the cost right down by $600 or more. In addition several statex offer additional tax credit.

After the installation, the running costs of a solar water heater are extremely less and in some types of heater (passive type) there is no running cost involved. Compare this to steady guzzling of more than $60 (or 15% if your utility bill) of your electric heater. So you are going to have a typical payback period around 3 years. After that it is just nice and smooth trickling money into your savings account. And you couldn’t care less about rising utility prices.Also if you sell the house, people have one more solid reason to buy your house.

What about looks and appearance? Worried about your home owners association creating headache? Well, in most of the cases, you cannot tell the difference from a skylight and a solar heater installed on a roof.

And also have you considered one totally unaccounted advantage? What is happening to all the solar rays falling on your roof if you have not installed heater? They are getting absorbed and heating your house. Your air conditioner is working harder to keep your house cooler. But now since the heat is being used to heat your water, your air conditioner is going a little easier , which saves you some extra money as well. This kind of things are generally overlooked and not even advertised by the solar heater makers, because they are hard to quantify. But most certainly this factor plays a role. Considering that your air conditioner is the biggest energy hog in your house, (eating away almost 50% of your household energy) , assuming installed solar heater takes 2% load off your air cooler, you are saving 1% of your utility bill. That is a free burger and a cola per month right there.

This is generally true. Most of the energy savings measures have this kind of synergy between them. Together, they end up saving actually more energy.

Forget several hundred pounds of saved carbon dioxide, forget environment and forget all other arguments. Purely from economical standpoint solar water heater makes a solid case. Do you want a side by side comparison? Here it is.

Places to go from here.

Wikipedia on Solar Water Heater

Google search for solar water heater

~ by Kedar on February 25, 2007.

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