Many people today adhere to an ideology that our society needs to promote better energy efficiency. One great way to reduce your energy consumption is to install a solar hot water system for your home or business.

Here is a buying guide explaining why you should consider using a solar hot water system. Below, you will also find some important features you should be aware of. This is followed with information about the system’s price, installation costs, plus potential grants and rebates for using efficient solar power.

Why You Should Invest in a Solar Hot Water System

You may ask yourself if purchasing a solar hot water system is really worth the money and effort. The answer is definitely yes. Once you have paid for the initial cost of the system, including any installation fees, all your hot water from that point forward will be essentially free.

You have the option to use a backup conventional heating element for emergencies, but the water you heat using your solar hot water system will not add to your gas or electric budget. EPA estimates project that individuals who utilize a solar hot water system can cut their overall energy budget in half.

the illustration of a house with a solar hot water system

Main Features of a Solar Hot Water System

There are many available features you should think about before you settle on a solar hot water unit for your home. There are websites with information provided by the Energy Protection Agency EPA, a government entity that promotes national energy efficiency. This is the best place to start your research on various features.

Still, if you want a detailed overview of a solar hot water system buying guide, containing not only features-related information but also prices, installation costs, and government rebates, then you have landed in the right place.

1: Direct vs. Indirect Circulation

This is step number one in determining which features you need. A direct system pumps the water through collector panels and into your home. The actual flow of the water is protected from freezing temperatures.

If you live in a cold climate, you need this feature. Indirect circulation systems, or open systems, are less expensive. However, they are not recommended for cold weather climates.

2: Tank Size

This is the next most critical feature to consider. If you feel your home will require a modest volume of hot water, you can use a smaller tank and save on costs. Determining the hot water tank size is critical no matter what energy source you use to heat the water.

However, it is always best to err on the side of more than less when choosing your tank size. You’ll add unnecessary costs if you find out you’ve picked a tank size that does not meet your hot water requirements.

a solar hot water system illustration

3: System Size

It would be great if the whole process were as simple as putting the necessary solar collector panels on your roof and installing a tank size that meets your needs. It is not quite that simple. The larger the volume of hot water you require the larger the overall solar hot water system you will need.

Your region is the ultimate determining factor when choosing how large an area the collector panels need to be to operate efficiently. For instance, southern states with abundant sunshine can provide the heat for a solar hot water system using fewer collectors than homes in the northern region.

Solar technicians have all the necessary data for this kind of project. They can accurately calculate the average sunshine as it relates to power all types of solar energy systems, including hot water. System size and configuration are also determined by the square footage of roof space you have, and the direction these functional spaces face.

Solar Hot Water System Cost

The cost of a solar hot water system will vary according to your needs. You must gain some knowledge of what to expect from your system. Then, you can discuss these features and how they related to the costs. This is where consultation with a solar heating specialist will answer the most important question, cost.

Solar hot water home systems can range anywhere from $3,000 for a basic system, to over $7,000 for an elaborate unit with multiple tanks and collector panels.

First, you must understand what type of system you require and how certain features can help meet your hot water needs. Then, you’ll be ready to make a knowledgeable decision. The EPA provides efficiency and cost estimates that are available free. This is excellent information to have handy when negotiating with a solar energy specialist. Apply this strategy if you’re  trying to secure the best price for your solar hot water system.

Installation Costs

Solar hot water can be a do-it-yourself project if you have the skills to handle the job. If you question your plumbing and electrical abilities, you need to strongly consider having the system installed by a professional. Installation cost for solar hot water systems varies between contractors.

However, you should pay attention to deals and periodic specials. This way, you can find enticing offers that reduce the cost of installation dramatically. The average installation charge for a solar hot water system is between $2,000 and just over $5,000. Moreover, installation costs vary according to the quantity of collector panels required and the number of tanks used in the home.

Government Rebates

A very important thing to investigate when you research the most cost-effective options for your home is represented by government rebates. US government grants are available in the form of tax credits, and other countries offer similar tax incentives, plus rebates on the purchase price of a unit. Desire.org has a database containing various state and local incentive programs you should research.

Applying for a rebate at one level will not preclude you from getting an additional refund at another. Apply for every source of grant or rebate you’re eligible. The US Internal Revenue Service provides the 5695 form, which covers all forms of residential energy credits, including a solar hot water system. Also, your solar energy specialist will be able to help you secure every rebate you’re entitled to.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, solar energy is a readily available alternative energy source that promotes environmental consciousness. One of the simplest and most effective ways to use the sun’s power is heating water. If you’ve decided that a solar hot water system is right for your home or business, consider the size and features necessary to meet your needs.

It is always best to consult with a solar energy specialist to make your final decisions. Still, it really helps to have an understanding beforehand.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3

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