Solar thermal – what is it and how can you use it?
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How solar thermal works Solar thermal energy is essentially using the free heat from the sun to warm your hot water. The solar water heating... The post Solar thermal – what is it and how can you use it? appeared first on My Green Home Blog .
How solar thermal works
Solar thermal energy is essentially using the free heat from the sun to warm your hot water. The solar water heating systems uses solar panels fitted to your roof. The panels, aka collectors, collect the heat from the sun which heats up water that is stored in a hot water cylinder. The system can be connected to a conventional boiler or immersion heater that is used as a backup to heat the water to a higher temperature or when solar energy is unavailable as shown in the diagram below.
Cold mains water is pumped into the solar thermal panel which is heated by the sun. This hot water is then pumped into the solar thermal cylinder. This hot water can either be used straight away (if at the correct temperature) or heated further by a boiler or immersion heater.
There are 5 main benefits from using a solar thermal energy system:
- Hot water all year round. The system works all year round but you will need to use a boiler or immersion heater to heat the water further during the winter months.
- Cuts down your energy bills. Once you have paid for the initial installation of the solar thermal system your energy bills will be greatly reduced because the sun’s energy is free. In the summer you would expect 100% of your hot water generation through this system. This depends on the system and the placement of the panels. Typical savings from a properly used system are £55 per year when replacing gas heating and £80 per year when replacing electric immersion heating; however, savings will vary from user to user.
- Reduces your carbon footprint. Solar hot water is a green, renewable heating source. By reducing your reliance on gas, coal and oil not only protects you from rapidly rising fuel bills but can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions too, therefore, making your home more environmentally friendly. Typical carbon savings are around 230kgCO2/year when replacing gas and 510kgCO2/year when replacing electric immersion heating.
- Free energy for at least 20 years. Once your system is installed, it will run with minimum running costs and will deliver you reliable free energy from the sun for at least 20 years. Maintenance costs are relatively low for solar thermal systems.
- Earnings. You may be able to receive payments for the heat you generate from a solar water heating system through the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive. This scheme should be launched in Summer 2013. There is also currently a grant of £300 available through the Renewable Heat Incentive Premium Payment scheme to help towards the cost of installing a solar thermal system.
The savings you will make from installing a solar thermalheating system are moderatethe system could provide most of your hot water in the summer, but much less during colder weatherso cost savings alone won’t be your motivator for choosing this heating system. However, it greatly reduces your carbon footprint and is a system that has a long running life
There are 3 main considerations needed for solar thermal heating:
In order for the panels to work efficiently you need five square metres of spare roof space facing east to west through south which receives direct sunlight for the main part of the day. The solar thermal panels don’t necessarily need to be mounted on the roof; they can also be fixed to a frame on a flat roof or hang from a wall.
2. Hot water cylinder
If a dedicated solar cylinder is not already installed then you will usually need to replace the existing cylinder, or add a dedicated cylinder with a solar heating coil.
3. Boiler compatibility
Most conventional boilers and hot water cylinders are compatible with solar water thermal systems. However, if you have a combination boiler and you don’t have a hot water tank then a solar thermal system may not be suitable for your home.
Article written by Optiheat Solar Thermal Renewable Systems – we are MCS accredited installers of solar thermal systems at homes in Devon, UK.
The post Solar thermal – what is it and how can you use it? appeared first on My Green Home Blog.