Living in the Valley of the Sun, we are prime beneficiaries of solar energy. We hear a lot about solar panels supplying energy to Phoenix homes but they can also help in creating hot water.
An ENERGY STAR certified solar water heater can cut your annual hot water costs in half and is generally designed for use with an electric or gas backup water heater. But making the decision to switch to solar is a little more complicated. How much storage do you need? Do you need an endless supply of hot water? How old is your existing heater? What are your usage patterns? Let’s take a closer look at some factors to consider before making a purchase.
What will you save with a solar water heater?
By using the sun’s free energy, you can reduce your hot water energy consumption by 70% to 90%, depending on where you live. That’s up to 90% less gas or electricity that needs to be produced. This is a significant value because most water heaters consume about 25% of the total monthly energy.
The beauty of a solar water heater is that you can preheat water for a primary heating source. By providing an electric or gas element with water that is preheated, you will drastically reduce or even eliminate the energy needed to reach the final desired temperature. If you have modest hot water usage, the water coming into the primary tank will always be preheated to some degree. It takes the same amount of energy to heat water from 77°F – 87°F as it does 110°F to 120°F. Any heating that you do with solar energy reduces your heating costs proportionally. You will only pay a fraction of the cost required to heat a 50-gallon tank if the incoming water is warmer than 77°F!
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the 2011 average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. resident was 11,280 kWh. Assume that the average Phoenix cost per one kWh is, and will remain for the duration of your water heater, $0.11. Assume that the average percentage of total energy consumed by your water heater is 25%. How much will your water heater cost you in 11 years?
The answer is $ 3,412.20 or $ 310.20 per year.
You can purchase a high-quality solar water heating system for well under $2,000, so it will pay for itself and still save you more money. Plus, you may be eligible for Federal Tax Credits on the installed cost.
Not only will you save on your energy costs, but you will greatly reduce your carbon footprint by using the natural and free energy provided by the sun. Although it may sound like a surprising statistic, if 50% of North America’s households utilized solar water heaters, the reduction in CO2 emissions would equal the result of doubling the fuel-efficiency of all automobiles in North America.
In most cases, it makes sense to integrate solar with another heating source, and in some circumstances, solar water heating is actually not your best bet. If you are a very light hot water user or only spend a limited amount of time at your Phoenix home, solar water heating may not be the most economical choice. Larger households and people who eat and do laundry at home are usually heavy hot water users and benefit tremendously from solar water heating.
If choosing a solar water heater isn’t the right option, but you’re still looking to reduce costs, consider looking into tankless water heaters. If you are still unsure if a solar water heater is for you, let the experts at Plumbing Masters help you to decide by coming by for a consultation.