When a house is built, by default it is made to connect to and use the local utilities that have been made available to the public. This may include water, gas, sewer, and electric utilities among others. While it is easy to just use whatever setup your house came with, eventually you might have reason to start looking for a change. It is common practice to upgrade and remodel the interior and exterior of your home as your tastes change and things wear out, so why not apply this upgrade practice to your utilities as well?
There are several ways to upgrade the way you use your utilities. Those looking to cut down on the costs or amount of power or water they use might switch builder grade appliances and fixtures for those that reduce the flow of water or electricity. You might invest in a smart home system or even just timers and smart plugs so you can reduce the amount of time that electric devices are on unnecessarily. Those who are really committed to cutting down their utility bill may even use solar energy by installing photovoltaic solar panels to generate their own electricity for home use or to sell back to the power company. This can be a major investment that can take 10–15 years to pay off, but there is another less expensive way you can use the power of the sun to upgrade your utility usage: installing a solar thermal energy system.
Solar thermal energy systems or solar collectors are used for heating the water that is used in your home, instead of relying on electricity or gas. While at first, it may seem silly to only upgrade one aspect of your electrical system, think about how frequently your hot water is used. It is likely you do not go a day without accessing your hot water heater. Between showers, laundry, dishes, and even just washing your hands, this is a highly utilized piece of equipment. Therefore, you should expect to see some immediate impact by installing a solar thermal system as well as long-term positives.
A solar thermal system has several components. The tank used with solar collectors is similar to one you would use for gas or electrical input, except it includes a heat exchange where a separate piping of hot liquid transfers its heat to the water in the tank. This liquid is pumped between the tank and a collector that sits on the roof. The solar thermal collectors use the greenhouse concept to trap light from the sun and convert it to heat. There are two different types of collectors but the overall mechanics are similar, with the result being that the fluid running through the system receives its heat at this point. The thermal system liquid will then run through the collector and receive the heat to take down to the tank. This video illustrates how exactly this works.
There are many benefits to switching over to solar thermal collectors These are the most common for harnessing solar energy, though you may find some of your own that are unique to your home or lifestyle.
- Save Money: Even if you are not completely replacing your utility with a full off-grid system, your electric or gas utility bill will see a noticeable drop when you switch to a solar thermal system. As stated before, the average household uses hot water multiple times a day, every day. This can really add up in terms of being noticeable on your bill. The amount of money you save each month will vary based on your personal usage, so the amount of time it takes for the system to pay for itself may also vary but this generally happens within 4 to 10 years according to the estimate by Solar Expert.com.
- Save the Environment: Gas and electricity are not the cleanest of energies. The production and even use are well known to cause various types of pollution. By reducing your use of them through a more natural and clean method you are reducing your carbon footprint and may enjoy knowing you are doing something to help.
- Government Incentives: Due to escalating awareness of climate change, governments are starting to give tax credits to individuals and businesses that take steps to reduce their energy consumption and overall carbon footprint. Making purchases like hybrid cars, water-saving appliances, and even solar panels can be claimed on your tax return to offset your tax burden and maybe even receive more of a refund. Some local and federal governments will even subsidize the initial purchase when it is installed in order to reduce the immediate burden of the large upfront cost. Take a look at your local tax code and government programs to see if you can qualify and get one of these systems for a bit less expensive than you thought.
- Increase Home Value: Along with the increase of government incentives, the buzz on climate change has also made eco-friendly home upgrades very attractive to buyers. A solar thermal upgrade is not only attractive to those who would consider the reduced environmental impact as a benefit, but it is also appealing to anyone who likes saving money on their monthly utility bills without even trying. This covers just about everyone else. It is difficult to tell just how much extra value a solar system will add to the value of your home until you sell it but in a competitive market it can certainly make your house stand out among the others.
These are the top four reasons that a solar thermal system would be beneficial to just about anyone. You may further investigate or start using your own and discover many others. Perhaps your neighborhood tends to be subject to multi-day blackouts or maybe your house runs on propane and you get snowed in every winter which prevents the gas company from being able to come out and fill your tank. Once you start thinking about all the easy things that can and have gone wrong, you might start to see how a solar thermal heating system could be a major benefit in plenty of ways.