According to studies that have been conducted by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, approximately 1.5 million residential solar water heaters are in use in the U.S. Although the initial cost of installing the system might be considered high, the savings after recouping this cost are astronomical.
Residential Solar Water Heaters Guide
There are no costs for fuel that is consumed as there is for typical water heaters that use gas or electricity. With about 40% of the homes in the United States in areas that have sufficient access to sunlight for powering residential solar water heaters, there are many more that could save by installing this type of water heater.
There are many incentives in place for changing from typical water heaters to solar power water heaters. Among them are tax credits that can offset the cost somewhat. Most solar residential water heaters must adhere to building and zoning codes. The consumer should check their local requirements and only have the system installed by a certified installer.
The solar power water heater is manufactured by many companies including Rheem, Bosch, A.O. Smith and more. Today, homeowners can choose from a variety of types, including one that can be installed on the roof. The residential solar water heaters of old were only available for installing at ground level.
Advantages of Solar Water Heaters
There are several advantages to the installation of residential solar water heaters. As just mentioned, the type that can be installed on the roof of your home can allow it to blend in with the architecture. In addition, they provide the following advantages:
Carbon Dioxide Emissions are Reduced
The average electric water heater can be responsible for the emission of up to eight tons of carbon dioxide per year. This is double the carbon dioxide emitted by a regular sized vehicle yearly. Since it takes roughly 6400-kilowatt hours of electricity to power an electric water heater, when generated by a power plant, the carbon dioxide emissions will vary according to the efficiency of the plant. Using residential solar water heaters can reduce the carbon dioxide released into the air substantially.
Nitrous Oxides are Reduced
When a typical water heater that utilizes gas for fuel is used for heating water for homes, the exhaust pipes can discharge nitrous oxide into the air. This is one of the contributors to global warming. When a solar water heater is used, the emissions are non-existent.
Decrease in Natural Gas Consumption
Since residential solar water heaters are powered by the sun, the amount of natural gas consumed is equal to a savings of about 75% over a natural gas water heater. Offsetting the cost of extraction and transportation as well as burning the gas is reduced significantly when solar water heaters are used.
Preservation of Fossil Fuels
A solar power water heater reduces the need for the use of fossil fuels, thereby preserving a resource that had been heavily relied on. This is an essential savings for the future.
Federal Tax Credit
A Federal tax credit for solar water heating systems is 30% of the cost to install the system. There is no maximum limit on the credit. This tax credit can save a homeowner a large amount of the installation charge and is available for systems that will be installed in homes through to December 2016.
What are the Disadvantages of Solar Water Heaters?
The disadvantages of residential solar water heaters are not nearly as numerous as the advantages. There are a few, which you can see below:
The Initial Cost
The initial cost of installing the system can be expensive. With prices ranging from $1500 to $3500, depending upon the system, this is a huge consideration.
Efficiency can be Affected by Climate
Since the efficiency of residential solar water heaters is dependent upon sunlight, the area of the country in which you live is a consideration. Many areas receive more sunlight making this an energy efficient choice; however, there are others that do not receive very much sun and the climate is much colder. This can reduce the efficiency of the water heater.
Overall, the main concern with utilizing residential solar water heaters versus the traditional gas or electric water heater is the start-up costs. Rebates and tax incentives can help as long as they are in place for those who choose this type of water heating. In addition, the type of system that is chosen can be another factor for power generated for heating water.