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Solar Hot Water

Solar hot water has got to be one of the best uses of solar energy to date.  Put some collectors, either flat plate solar collectors , evacuated tube solar collectors, or batch, solar hot water heaters (the oldest method of the three) which ever way you decide to go, this is a great way to supplement your existing fuel source for heating your water.  Propane costs have skyrocketed, electricity prices remain high and heating oil prices fluctuate wildly.  No matter what you are using to heat your water with now, if you have good solar orientation (south facing in the northern hemisphere, north facing in the southern hemisphere), pre-heating your water with good old solar power is the way to go.

Solar hot water is used for washing dishes, taking showers, baths, washing the dog, etc.  It can also be used to heat one’s home by running the heated water through a closed loop system underneath the floor, either a masonry floor or a wooden deck with carpet or some other finish.  Also known as radiant heat, this is a very even heat, rising up from the floor and surrounding one.  There is no blowing air as in a ducted furnace.  While overall very comfortable, it does take getting used to as the heat produced is not immediate.  One has to plan ahead of time when the temperatures start to drop to turn the floor heat on in advance so it will have time to heat the mass.  Same is true for cooling down.  When the temperatures start to go the other way, one has to guesstimate when the heat is no longer needed and turn the floor off.  However, in the times in between, it is very comfortable.  One can find a warm place on the floor and warm their feet, thereby warming their whole body.

In our climate in New Mexico, radiant heat is very popular.  When we first installed our radiant heat, propane was very inexpensive.  It has since nearly quadrupled in price, making it less economical than when we first installed it.  We are now planning to add solar hot water to our system to cut back on the amount of propane we use.  But, you don’t have to live in a place like New Mexico where we get 300 days of sunshine a year to take advantage of solar power.  You can make use of solar energy even in places like Massachusetts!

To learn more about solar hot water and other alternative, green energy resources, please spend some time on our website.

Category: Solar Hot Water
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