Is a Solar Hot Water System the Best Option?

For many Australians seeking a sustainable solution to water heating, the solar hot water system has become a widely favoured choice. Drawing on the sun’s energy to heat your water provides homeowners with a vast array of benefits.

Those benefits can range from financial incentives from the government, to lower running costs and greater environmental sustainability. So let’s look at these benefits in greater detail, to determine whether a solar hot water system really is the right choice for your home.

Before we explore the benefits of solar water heating, let’s first look at how a solar water heater actually works.

How Does Solar Hot Water Work?

The basic principle of a solar hot water system is that it draws energy from the sun to heat the water you use in your home. They generally consist of solar collectors made up of solar panels that are installed on the roof of your home, and a storage tank.

Exactly how your solar water heater works will depend on the system options you choose.

  • Solar collectors come in the choice of flat panel or evacuated tubes. As consumer website Choice suggests, evacuated tube collectors are considered more efficient.
  • System type can be a thermosiphon system, where the tank and solar collector are both installed on the roof, or split systems where the storage tank is installed at ground level.
  • Electric or gas booster options, for the times of the year where the sun’s energy is not quite as prominent so your system needs a little help.

Cold water travels from the storage tank to the solar collector. In a split system, the water gets pumped from the tank to the collector. In a thermosiphon system, however, the cold water moves organically from tank to collector.

The heat in the solar collector, absorbed from the energy of the sun, heats the cold water that has flowed through, and channels it back to the storage tank. As cold water is heavier than hot water, the heated water rises to the top of the hot water tank. This is the water that comes out of the hot water tap.

Meanwhile, the cold water at the bottom of the tank gets directed back to the collector where the hot water heating process begins again.

Benefits of Solar Hot Water Systems

Though most of us would probably have grown up with an electric or gas hot water system, more and more homeowners are making the switch to solar. Sure, they may be more expensive to purchase and install than the more traditional options.

However, the benefits they provide more than make up for the initial purchase cost. These benefits include:

  • Greater cost-effectiveness
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Increased property value
  • Low maintenance requirements
  • Eligibility for Government incentives

Let’s take a look at them in more detail.

Cost Effective

Solar hot water systems allow homeowners to enjoy significant savings in energy costs. Traditional gas and (especially) electric hot water systems can become expensive to run, as they do not boast the same efficiency as a solar-powered system. That lower level of efficiency typically translates to higher energy bills.

On the other hand, solar-powered systems using the free and renewable energy of the sun to heat water means lower energy bills and more money remaining in your pocket!

As we mentioned earlier, buying a solar hot water system will often set you back a bit more in upfront purchase and installation costs than gas or electric powered units. But over time, you’ll reap the benefits in the form of genuine energy savings.

Environmental Sustainability

A solar hot water system is cost effective because of its environmental sustainability, another key benefit of this type of water heater. Unlike fossil fuels like gas and electricity, solar hot water systems do not generate greenhouse gas emissions when in use. This enables households to reduce their carbon footprint, and also minimise their reliance on non-renewable fossil fuels.

By making the switch to a renewable power source like solar energy, you ultimately help to pave the way for future generations to maintain and enjoy a more sustainable future.

Enhanced Property Value

Switching to a solar hot water system is an effective way to boost the resale value of your home! More and more buyers on the property market are seeking homes that provide sustainable, energy-efficient utilities like water and energy. They’re also more willing to pay extra for those features.

Solar hot water systems are generally highly appealing to home buyers because they deliver significant running cost savings over time, as well as the notable benefits to the environment. In addition to this, the general lifespan of a well-maintained solar water heater will be equally as appealing to homeowners wanting a reliable, long-term water heating solution.

All in all, it boosts the market potential of your home and makes it more appealing to prospective home buyers.

Low Maintenance

For any major home appliance to keep working at its best for as long as possible, it will need some degree of regular maintenance and upkeep. Thankfully, a solar hot water system boasts low maintenance requirements and high durability, making them a highly-favoured option for homeowners.

They’re perfect for those of us seeking to lower any home maintenance costs (once again, cost effective!) and upkeep requirements while still getting the most from our hot water heater for as long as possible.

Once you’ve installed your solar hot water system, you’ll likely need it serviced thoroughly once every five years. Other than that, some basic maintenance like a periodic clean and check of the solar collectors and any connections might be all you need.

Government Incentives and Rebates

Despite all these compelling benefits we’ve discussed, some people might just need that one last carrot dangled in front of them to entice them to make the switch. So … are financial incentives tempting enough?

Depending on which state or territory of Australia you live in, you might be eligible for certain financial rebates that help to offset the cost of purchase and installation of your solar hot water system.

The Australian Government offers Small-scale Technology Certificates (STC) to homeowners who install an eligible solar hot water system. A single STC equates to one megawatt hour of renewable energy produced by an eligible system such as a solar hot water heater. They are used as an incentive to make the switch to solar, by partially offsetting the cost of purchase and installation.

How many small scale technology certificates your solar hot water system creates will depend on factors such as:

  • Geographic location
  • Date of installation
  • The volume of solar electricity, measured in megawatt hours (MWh), which has either been generated by the system over one or five years, or displaced by the solar water heater over one maximum deeming period.

Incentives vary between states and territories, so click here to find out which ones are available in your region.

To Sum Up …

Australian households can benefit greatly from installing a solar hot water system for their homes. These benefits include everything from:

  • Greater cost effectiveness and environmentally friendly operation
  • Low maintenance needs
  • Lengthy lifespan
  • The potential to increase property value and receive financial incentives

Solar water heaters can be a smart investment for any homeowner seeking guaranteed reliable and sustainable access to hot water. By drawing on the energy of the sun, you can not only save money, but also do your part to create an Australia that is cleaner and more sustainable now and into the future.

Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.

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