The sun gives us light and warmth, not to mention allowing us to grow food and keeping our spirits up. However, nowadays, with modern technologies to harvest solar and thermal energy available, the sun can be useful in more ways than ever before. Forget sunbathing, how about heating your whole house with just the sun's energy for power?
One of the most exciting new uses for solar energy is in heating water. A solar water heating system uses heat from the sun to warm the water in your home's hot water tank. This is achieved by attaching a variety of solar panels called solar thermal collectors to the roof of your building. The panels contain a heat-transfer fluid – a mixture of water and anti-freeze – which circulates within the panel and absorbs the sun’s heat. An electronic pump causes this fluid to circulate from the panels to a hot water cylinder, where a heat exchanger transfers the heat to the mains water.
Although solar panels have always seemed like a product aimed at the very rich or technologically proficient, the truth is that advances in technology have made it possible for everyone to make use of solar energy in heating and powering their homes. Average systems cost between £3,900 for a two person household to £5,000 for a six person household according to the Solar Trade Association. Using a solar thermal system makes a positive contribution to the environment as it employs renewable solar power and reduces the amount of heat generated through the burning of fossil fuels, thereby also reducing CO2 emissions and other knock-on effects.
Other advantages of installing a solar thermal system revolve around the financial aspects. Installing such a system allows you to harvest heat for free from the sun, thus reducing your heating costs. Although in cooler climates, such as in the UK, it is likely that you would need a back up heating system or immersion heater to heat the water up to an acceptable temperature in winter, the overall cost is still lower than with conventional heating alone. You may also be able to get funding from the government under the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme (RHI). A typical 4 square metre installation with a 250 litre cylinder is estimated to get £2,347 of funding from the RHI over a 7yr lifetime.
Solar thermal systems are compatible with most conventional water heating systems, as long as you have a hot water tank. They require very little maintenance, although an annual service check is recommended. Before buying a system you should consider whether you have space for the necessary components. In particular, you need 5 square metres of roof or wall space on a surface that receives sun exposure in order for the system to be most effective. You will also need some space with access to your hot water tank to install a solar cylinder to heat the water.
We at Franck Energy have a lot of experience in dealing with the various types of solar thermal systems and the companies that make and install them. Over the years we have built up a definitive expertise and today we are in a prime position to advise those looking to switch their heating system to a more renewable solution. If you would like to cut your energy costs and contribute to a more sustainable future, do not hesitate to get in contact. Our friendly team can help you to assess your situation, decide on the most effective solution for your home and recommend an installer with good credentials and a high standard of care. With our help, you can save money and help the environment without creating any extra stress for yourself.