Is Solar Hot Water Worth It?
The sun’s energy is free and you can save money for years. However, the upfront cost of the unit and installation make us think twice whether to go for it. Before making a decision, it’s important to weigh the costs and benefits first.
Benefits of using solar hot water
Instead of electricity from the grid or fuel from the gas lines, the system uses free energy from the sun. The panels convert the solar energy into heat, which then heats up the coils and the water that we’ll use for bathing.
Aside from the free energy and the electricity or fuel savings, this also helps the environment. The electricity or fuel we use most probably comes from the burning of fossil fuels. The entire process from extracting the fuels from earth or under ocean floors, the processing and refining to the transport and distribution of the fuels until they reach our homes has a high environmental cost. In contrast, the use of solar energy is more straightforward and has minimal environmental impact.
It’s more straightforward because all the energy we use might have come from the sun anyway. For example, we can trace back the energy of fossil fuels from photosynthesis by plants and phytoplanktons. These organisms (along with animals) decomposed through millions of years and then got turned up as fossil fuels with significant energy content. In other words, the energy we’re using right now came from the sun because of photosynthesis and other biogeochemical and physical processes initiated or facilitated by the sun. In the use of solar water heaters, we take a shortcut by extracting energy directly from the sun instead of going through the long way of photosynthesis, respiration, decomposition and complex chemical and physical processes.
Cost of solar hot water
Upfront costs are still significantly higher than electric or gas systems. Aside from the unit, most likely you’ll also spend more on the installation and configuration. Although the costs are higher, there’s a payback time within a few years.
It also happens that solar water heaters require the support or “boosts” from electric or gas systems. That’s because there are days when the sunlight is not enough especially during cloudy days. To have enough hot water for your shower, bathing and other uses, the gas or electric system will meet the demand.
Is it worth it then? It’s crucial to ask technical advice first because the actual benefits and costs also depend on your location and hot water requirements. You can contact us here at NSW Hot Water (phone us at 02 9722 4500) and enquire about our solar hot water systems.