Solar hot water collection

Dan Vos

Vos Energy Concepts

This week we are writing about solar hot water collection. This is the most cost effective way of using the sun’s energy in our existing homes.

Most people don’t realize that about 20 percent of your total annual heating bill is used to heat water. It can be more depending on the fuel you use and the number of teenage girls you have in your house (personal experience, of course—I like an occasional long shower myself, so I can’t blame her too much). Electric energy is the most expensive, with propane close behind and natural gas the cheapest per BTU.

Solar hot water panels and controllers have been around a long time and have been improving along the way. I’ve serviced 25-year-old systems and got them back on track by re-insulating and replacing a few worn parts. The new ones will last just as long or longer, I’m sure.

Basically, the panels lay flat on a south-facing and unshaded roof. There are insulated pipes that go to a solar storage tank which uses any heat collected to preheat the water going into your existing hot water heater. When you ask for hot water from your faucet, the hot water goes from the solar tank into your existing tank and heats that water so that your conventional energy doesn’t need to.

Spring, fall and summer give me gas bills that are mostly fees. In winter, I take what I get and am thankful for it.

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