Thousands of people want to go green. If this includes you, did you know you can actually save money as you leave a lighter carbon footprint on the environment? There are many methods of doing this, from getting "off the grid" and using solar and wind power, to simply reducing the amount of energy you use by turning off lights and unplugging appliances such as TVs and DVD players when they are not in use . One of the more significant ways that you can go green while saving money is installing a solar water heating system. Using solar power to warm your water can reduce your fossil fuel power consumption by up to 32% and be an important first step towards upgrading your home to be more environmentally friendly.
How do solar water heaters work? In comparison with other methods of solar power generation, solar panels work differently than solar water heaters. Solar panels primarily use photovoltaics (PVs), which are arrays of cells that contains materials which convert solar radiation into direct current electricity. However, water solar power heaters use a simpler method of using solar energy to produce warm water. They use solar thermal collectors to capture energy from the sun. Everyone knows that when they wear dark clothing on a sunny day, they tend to feel warmer in the sun. This is because black materials are more absorptive of sunlight, whereas lighter colored surfaces reflect the sun's light. In the same method, solar water heating systems capture energy from the sun by cycling fluids through black colored tubing. This dark colored tubing captures thermal energy from the sun and warms the fluid. The warm water then circulates through the tubing and into your home. Sometimes a reservoir is attached to the warm water system to conserve heat through evening hours when the sun does not shine.
Solar power water heaters rarely can provide enough heat to sustain hot water through an entire day, as the sun is not always shining. Therefore, solar water heaters are often supplemented with other types of water heating. While this can include the standard gas or electric water heater, many homeowners get creative and use greener methods of supplementing their hot water heater system. One example of this would be utilizing the heat generated through a fireplace, where the same types of tubing that circulate through solar thermal collectors are run in close proximity to the heat of the fireplace, or through the chimney. Another creative method to supplement solar water heaters involves the heat generated from the back of air conditioners.
It is important to note that solar water heaters are not for all climates. In northern climates, weather conditions are not favorable to operate a solar power system to heat water for part of the year. Wherever conditions could lead to the freezing of water outdoors, your solar thermal collector or the tubes between the collector and your hot water system should be emptied of fluids. Most areas where this would occur have seasonal periods which are beneficial for using solar water heating. During seasons where freezing would occur, you must drain the fluids from the tubing. This is because liquid expands when it freezes, and would burst the tubes and other vital components of your solar heater system.
What are the benefits of a DIY solar water heater? The stated goal of this article is to both help you reduce the size of your ecological footprint, as well as help you to save money. In keeping with the goal of saving money, you should be aware that there are "do it yourself", or DIY solar water heater kits that will not only reduce your monthly power bill, they are cheaper to install.
While professionally installed solar systems to heat your water may cost upwards of $ 700, you can build your own solar water heater for less than $ 100. If you have looked at installing solar panels before, be aware that building a DIY solar water heater is far more simple. Whereas a solar panel can require purchasing expensive fragile components and soldering them together, solar water heaters are by comparison far easier to assemble. This is because all the parts you need are available at your local hardware store.
In conclusion, solar power is free. It causes no greenhouse gas emissions. It does not pollute the atmosphere. It does not indebt us to foreign powers for fossil fuel consumption. It is a clean and renewable power source. Using solar power to heat your water has only beneficial effects on the environment, and your wallet!