When you compare all the gadgets in your home that suck up electricity, at the top of the list should be your hot water heater. Do you realize that this baby stays on 24/7/365? Why, you might ask…good question. One could suppose that you might want to take a hot shower at 3 A.M. But if you don’t, why pay for the electricity to keep it running all night?
Now I know that water heaters are generally well insulated so that they’re not actually making hot water every second, but the heater is still on. One way to cut down on the cost is to install a switch, like a light switch that actually cuts the power to the water heater. The good news is it will cut costs, but the bad news is you’ll have to remember to turn it on when you decide to take a shower or wash the dishes.
What if there was a way to have hot water on hand at any time of the day while still lowering your electric bill? Solar water heater to the rescue! Now, if you’re thinking about the solar panels that go on your roof, soak up the sun and provide electricity to the home then you’re a little off.
To heat the water with solar energy, you’ll have a choice to make. You can either go passive or active.
A passive system means you’ll have a tank on top of your house, along with pipes and a solar collector. There is no electric motor with this system, so it relies on gravity.
For an active system, the tank doesn’t have to be on the roof and it relies on an electric motor rather than gravity. While there are many perks to this kind of system, the downside is that you have an “Electric” motor. The power goes out, and you don’t have a backup system, then you don’t have hot water.
Both systems pretty much do the same thing. The water is piped into the solar collector where it is heated by the sun. If there’s not enough sun, then you can always give it a little help with electric or gas power. You may have to use a little electricity but it’s a lot less then you would have to use without the solar heater.
But, what if I don’t live in a sunny area like Florida and Arizona? Can I still use solar water heaters? If you get plenty of sun at any part of the day, then you should be able to. The hot water panels need much less sun than the photovoltaic (PV) panels so even if you live up north you should still be able to use them. Of course, if you live in an area that gets very little sun, you may need a second panel to gather the extra energy needed
Aside from the money you’ll be saving, you’ll also be doing your part to help the environment. Your system totally reduces the amount of electricity you buy from your local electric company and produces no greenhouse gases. Sounds like a win-win!
Each year, solar energy becomes more popular as people start to realize they need to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and do what they can to help the environment.
You don’t have to go completely solar all at once, but every little bit helps. Start with the solar water heater and then add PV panels little by little. The prices for the PV panels has been coming down each year which is great news.
For those whose roofs can’t handle the panels, fear not! There are new inventions showing solar “panels” that aren’t even panels. Some are even just a film that attaches to your windows. How cool is that?! So, do your part. Every little bit helps. Go green.
Check out this youtube video that shows a great DIY project to heat water with the sun :How to build a solar water heater, simple DIY project.