Sunlight converts cold water into hot water. No gases are emitted and no one gets hurt. Life is rarely this simple!
The cost of energy is rising and the effect of pollution increasing. Water heating accounts for approximately 30 per cent of an average household's total greenhouse gas emissions and about the same proportion of total household energy use. Visit Climate Change for more information.
Solar hot water systems are highly efficient in their use of solar energy (sunlight) to heat water. The efficiency of solar hot water heaters has increased so much over the past 30 years that solar powered hot water is possible year round for most Australian homes. On cloudy days, gas or electric boosters kick in to ensure you are never without hot water.
By installing an electric boosted solar hot water system or heat pump system, the average Australian household would cut greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 34 tonnes over a 20 year period. This jumps to a saving of over 100 tonnes over a 20 year period for a gas boosted system. It is a great way to reduce the threat of global warming.
In addition, by using the sun's energy to heat water you will reduce your household hot water bills by more than 60 per cent each year, a saving of around $200-$300 each year for the average family (so thousands of dollars over the life of the system).
If you also install renewable electricity technology, then all your hot water can be generated from nature, with no impact on our (or our kids') climate.
A solid, sound and responsible investment in energy efficiency and guilt-free hot baths.
How to do it now!
There are three elements involved in installing a solar hot water system in Australia. These are:
Finding the right solar hot water or heat pump system supplier/installer.
Will the supplier/installer facilitate the complete process, including tank selection, and installation? Their level of experience and advice can be the decisive factor in choosing the right solar hot water or heat pump system.
What experience does the company have installing solar hot water or heat pump systems similar to yours? If you have a special need such as pool heating, make sure the company you choose has the appropriate experience.
What warranty on the installation of the system does the supplier/installer provide? Ensure the supplier/installer will guarantee the quality of their installation.
Ensure all companies are quoting on the same specifications. This will make it much easier for you to make an informed decision.
Get itemised quotes. This will allow you to evaluate respective costs of labour and materials.
Selecting the right solar hot water or heat pump system for your household.
A list of solar hot water system providers in Australia include:
Company - Phone - Split / Thermosiphon (on roof) / Heat pump - Evacuated tube or flat panel
Hills Solar - 1300 363 386 - Split - Evacuated tube
Solahart -1300 721 984 - Split & Thermosiphon - Flat panel
Rinnai - 1300 555 545 - Split, Thermosiphon, Heat Pump - Flat panel
Rheem - 132 552 - Split, Thermosiphon, Heat Pump - Flat panel
Solar Lord - 1300 133 782 - Split - Evacuated tube
Endless Solar - 02 9281 5526 - Split - Evacuated tube
Edwards - 132 949 - Split, Thermosiphon, Heat Pump - Flat panel
Dux - 1300 365 116 - Split - Flat panel
Chromagen - 1300 36 75 65 - Split & Thermosiphon - Flat panel
Aquamax - 1800 676 000 - Split - Flat panel
Apricus - 1300 APRICUS - Split - Evacuated tube
EcoSmart - 133 326 - Split, Heat Pump - Flat panel
Ensure the solar hot water system is the right size for your household. It's important to choose a system with enough capacity to provide sufficient free hot water when the system is operational.
Capacity (litres) - Number of householders
150-220 litres - 1-2 people
220-300 litres - 3-4 people
300+ litres - 5+ people
Decide between a split system, a close-coupled (tank-on-roof system or Thermosiphon) system or a heat-pump system. Solar hot water systems can store the heated water either on the roof or in a tank beside the house just like a traditional hot water system. The close-coupled system has fewer moving parts, but may require the roof to be reinforced to bear the additional weight. The split system places the tank out of sight, is generally easier to install and often attracts higher rebates. It is also a bit more efficient and tends to be the cheaper option. Heat pumps use mechanical processes to extract heat from the air and store the heat in water. Heat pumps are powered by electricity but achieve far greater efficiency in heating water than traditional gas or electric hot water systems.
For more information on choosing a solar hot water system, check out the technical manual provided on the Australian Government's Your Home website.
What is the warranty on the system? A warranty of ten years on the tank and collectors, and five or more on the parts and labour is advisable.
What maintenance services are available for the system?
How efficiently does the system convert sunlight into heated water? All accredited systems are tested for efficiency and compared to a standard electric hot water system. The more energy displaced, the more Small-scale technology certificates (STCs) are assigned to it. Therefore, the more STCs a system has, the more efficient it is (1 STC = 1 MWH of displaced energy over a 10 year period). See The Clean Energy Regulator page for further details. Evacuated-tubes can be more efficient in some circumstances (e.g. a European winter) but their total collection area is far less than a flat plate collector. Check with your supplier to ensure you get the most efficient and effective system to meet your needs.
What is the cost of the system fully installed? The true cost of your solar hot water system can be calculated by subtracting the rebates or RECs you are eligible to receive from the installed cost of the system.
Why is this action important?
For us to live sustainably we must harness renewable, local and abundant energy sources such as sunlight. This action cuts one-third of the energy use from the average house with a cost-effective investment in sound technology and generates long term rewards; financial, environmental and intergenerational.
The contribution to the environment when installing a solar hot water system is significant, with approximately 34 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions prevented over a 20 year period. This helps to reduce the threats of global warming.
The health giving effects of the sun's energy are lauded both by folklore and science. Take a sun warmed bath and exult in the pleasure - without harming the earth.