Producing hot water accounts for around 15-20% of the average household’s energy bills. With that in mind, it’s not hard to see the appeal of getting your water heated for free by the power of the sun. But is solar water heating really effective? Or does it only work on blazing hot days in the middle of summer?
How it works
Heating water using the sun’s energy relies on installing a series of tubes or flat panels on your property. These are usually referred to as ‘solar panels’ which should not be confused with photovoltaic panels, which use the sun’s energy to generate electricity.
The tubes or panels are filled with water which absorbs warmth from the sun causing it to heat up. The water then circulates to a storage tank where it is kept until needed while the next lot of water is being heated. Solar panels are usually placed on roofs which faces south, south-east or south-west, but can also be used as free standing installations in gardens.
Does it have to be sunny to work?
Because this method of water heating relies on energy from the sun, it is always going to be more efficient on sunny days. However, even in winter or when it is cloudy energy from the sun is still reaching us and so will still heat the water in your solar panels. That said, the process is certainly less effective on colder or cloudier days and so some kind of back-up water heating from conventional gas, oil or electric power is advisable.
Solar water heating systems can also be connected to hot water-based underfloor heating. This can help reduce the running costs of underfloor heating and potentially save you even more money.
If you would like to find out more about solar water heating and whether it is right for you, contact DHS today.