Your boiler or immersion heater is one of the biggest gobblers of power in your home, so whether you’re looking to go green or just cut down your energy bills, it makes sense to switch to a solar hot water system from companies such as Evo Energy.
Solar water heating systems use solar panels to collect heat from the sun, which is then used to warm up water stored in a cylinder. The liquid is pumped through a closed loop system and then passed through a heating coil in the storage tank, where the heat is transferred to the water you use for washing clothes, showering and bathing.
Ideally, the storage tank should have a twin coil heating system for maximum efficiency. This means that the water is heated by energy drawn from the solar collector as much as possible, before the conventional boiler or immersion heater takes over, ensuring you get the most out of the sun’s energy.
According to a recent field trial by the Energy Saving Trust, a well-installed and properly-used solar hot water system could generate savings of £55 a year when replacing gas heating, and a considerably higher £80 a year compared with electric immersion heaters. If you’ve got your eye on your carbon footprint, the technology will reduce your household’s emissions by around 230 kg of CO2 per year in a gas-powered home, and nearly double this for an immersion heater.
With the government’s Renewable Hear Incentive, to be introduced in autumn 2012, homeowners in England, Scotland and Wales will be able to apply for a share of a £12 million fund designed to support people and businesses in switching over from fossil fuel. Due to come into force around the same time as the coalition’s Green Deal, the initiative is expected to provide part of a whole-house approach to energy saving and generation.
In order to install the panels from which solar heating systems draw their power, homeowners just need around 5 square metres of roof space, ideally facing east to west through south. If there is not enough roof space, they may alternatively be able to fix the panels to a frame on a flat roof, or hang them from a wall.
Most conventional boiler and hot water cylinder systems will be compatible with solar heating, apart from combination boiler systems without hot water tanks. If you’re unsure, contact an accredited installer, who will be able to advise you on the best setup for your home.