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Building Green in Winter Park - Solar Water Heating
January 29, 2011
Solar water heating has recently seen a surge in popularity due to rising energy costs and increasing consumer awareness of environmental issues. The most commonly thought of solar water heating system is used for heating pools, but systems designed for domestic water heating purposes are also available and offer potential savings for all homeowners. Traditional water heating systems use electricity or gas (natural gas or propane) to heat water and account for between ten and thirty percent of a home’s energy consumption. Solar water heaters, on the other hand, take advantage of the free and endless energy of the sun to provide hot water at significant savings.
Solar water heating for domestic purposes offers a surprisingly simple and reliable method for many Winter Park residents to reduce their energy bill. There are several different types of systems on the market, but all operate on the same principle of utilizing the sun’s energy to heat water. Active and passive solar heaters are the most common systems and consist of a small solar collector on the roof connected to a traditional electric water heater tank. The traditional tank stores hot water that has been heated by the solar system and acts as a backup heater in extended periods of shade or rainy weather. With this type of setup, homeowners don’t run out of hot water when the sun goes down.
A solar heating system is unobtrusive and if properly located, can go unnoticed by a homeowner (besides the smaller energy bills). For this reason, the placement of the roof component of the system is critical. The solar collector is only four feet by ten feet, so only a small portion of roof space is required. Ideally, the collector is located on the rear or side of your roof and is not visible from the street, but the most efficient location is for the collector to be located facing the south. Another important consideration is to locate the collector away from the shade of trees, as the systems are most efficient and productive when they receive direct sunlight. The orientation of some homes may mean that the ideal solar collector location is at the front of the home and this can understandably deter many Winter Park residents. For residents without an appropriate roof line for a solar system, there are many other cost effective green building techniques to reduce energy consumption.
Domestic solar water heating offers a way for many Winter Park residents to reduce their energy bills in a cost effective manner. On average, traditional water heating accounts for about ten to thirty percent of residential electricity bills, depending on the usage of hot water within the home. In Central Florida, it is common for homeowners with solar water heaters to see 50-80% reductions in energy use for their water heating. This translates into energy savings of approximately $15-$35 each month.
The initial costs of solar systems vary, but current state and federal incentives reduce the initial investment to create a cost-neutral or even positive cash flow for homeowners that purchase solar systems. It is often more cost effective to install a solar system in new construction, but the systems are also easily installed during renovations and offer savings to owners during any type of construction project. Domestic solar water heating can create savings for almost every resident in Winter Park.When remodeling or building in Winter Park, require your architect and contractor to incorporate green building techniques in your home.