By: Danielle Hegedus
At Home Improvement Leads, we’re always looking for ways to save money on everyday home expenses while reducing our carbon footprint. Using sunshine to heat or preheat your water is a great way to accomplish those goals. Heating water accounts for a large portion of your home’s energy use. You can reduce your heating costs with a high-efficiency or tankless water heater, but a solar water heater is by far the most cost-effective system you can purchase. While solar water heating systems typically cost more to purchase and install than a conventional water heating system, a solar water heater can cut your water heater energy costs by 50 percent. This makes a solar water heater a great long term investment, especially as the price of traditional fuel sources is likely to rise as the industry faces increased regulations in order to curb its carbon emissions.
Still on the fence about whether or not a solar water heater is worth the investment? According to the Department of Energy, the average U.S. household uses approximately 64 gallons of water each day. In a year, that adds up to a $400-600 water bill. Additionally, water heating is the second largest expense in your home, accounting for 14-18% of your utility bills. Investing in a solar water heater is one of the easiest ways to get on the solar bandwagon and start saving money. Read on to learn more about how solar water heaters work and the economic and environmental impact they can have on your family.
How do Solar Water Heaters Work?
Solar water heaters come in different shapes and designs, but a storage tank and a collector are at the core of a solar water heater, which uses the power of the sun to heat your home’s water. A solar collector is a glazed, insulated box with a dark-colored interior filled with tubes or passageways for water flow. The solar collector absorbs solar energy and transfers it to the energy transfer fluid passing through the collector. The energy transfer fluid transfers the absorbed heat to the water through conduction or convection, the type of material varies with the design and needs of the installation. Finally, a thermally insulated hot water storage tank holds the heated water. The storage tank should be large so that you can collect enough hot water to meet your needs throughout the day.
When shopping for a solar water heater, you may come across the terms passive and active. An active solar water heater uses electrical pumps and controls to move water around the system. A passive solar water heater uses nothing but forces of nature. Passive solar water heating systems are typically less expensive than active systems, but they’re usually not as efficient.
What are the Costs and Potential Savings with a Solar Water Heater?
Solar water heaters are a cost-effective way to generate hot water for your home using the sun’s energy. The amount of money you’ll save depends on a variety of factors including:
- the amount of water you use
- the capacity of your system
- the number of sunny days you experience in your geographic area each year
- the cost of traditional fuels like natural gas, oil, or electricity
You can reduce the up-front cost of a solar water heater by applying for a federal tax credit. If you install a solar water heater prior to 12/31/2019, you can claim a tax credit of 30 percent of qualified expenditures including labor costs, assembly or installation, and for wiring to connect the system to your home. If your tax credit exceeds your liability for the year the system is installed, you can carry over the credit to the next year. Work with a licensed solar installer to maximize incentives that may be available at the state or municipal level.