Solar Hot Water Systems: Are You Really Saving Money?

If there’s one thing we can all get behind, it’s the idea of saving on our energy bills. After all, what could be more appealing than living the same lifestyle with a smaller price tag?

And, hey, if we can save money while also living more sustainably and reducing our carbon footprint, so much the better, right? You may have heard that solar hot water systems can help you to make substantial savings. You might even have invested in one already. On the other hand, you may be looking into getting a solar hot water system but aren’t quite ready to pull the trigger just yet. You might want to investigate whether or not a solar hot water system really lives up to the bold claims.

So, do solar hot water systems really save you money? Or is it all a clever marketing gimmick? We don’t blame frugal and cautious consumers for wanting to know a little more before parting with their hard-earned money. Let’s take a look at how a solar hot water system can save you money and how much you can expect to save.

How solar hot water systems work

In order to understand how this kind of system can save you money we need to take a closer look at how they work.

Just as a solar panel can be used to generate electricity, it can also be used to heat water with energy drawn from the sun. It’s a more efficient way to heat your water than by converting solar energy into electricity which is then transferred into heat energy.

There are two types of solar hot water systems:

  • Flat Plate Collectors– Used with a roof mounted tank
  • Evacuated Tubes– With a standalone tank below

Which system is best for you depends on your home’s setup and location. Evacuated tubes are more appropriate for homes which are prone to frost in the colder months. However, the energy benefits are much the same, with evacuated tubes being slightly more efficient as they don’t require direct sunlight and can even work well in high humidity.

How Flat Plate Collectors work

Copper pipes run through the glass- covered collector, usually connecting to a water storage tank on the roof. The sun heats the copper pipes and the heated water within is then thermo-siphoned out of the storage tank.

How Evacuated Tubes work

Two glass tubes fused together at the top and bottom. The space between the two tubes is evacuated to create a vacuum. A copper heat pipe runs through the centre of the tube to meet a common manifold. That then connects to a slow flow circulation pump. This pumps water to a storage tank below, heating the water throughout the day. Because the standalone tank is so well insulated, hot water can be used at night or even the next day.

What’s more, if the water in the tank drops below a certain temperature, an electric pump distributes it back to the pipes to be reheated. Check out this post to see more about how evacuated tubes work.

But, what about the days when there’s no sunlight?

Don’t worry, you won’t have to bathe in tepid water on winter days when the sun isn’t out. Most systems work in tandem with either a gas or electric booster which supplements the solar hot water system when there’s insufficient energy from the sun.

So, how much could you save?

As you can see, both methods are very efficient and sustainable ways to heat your water… But can they really save you that much?

The short answer is, yes. Yes they can!

In fact, according to the Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW, a solar hot water system can save you up to 75% on your water heating costs when compared to electric storage heaters or gas boilers.

According to Sustainability Victoria, a home with 3-4 people using heating roughly 200l of water an electric storage heater will spend $1,337 a year on peak tariff or $859 off peak. When using an electric boosted solar hot water system, however, this figure drops to just $293 (off peak).

Rebates and subsidies

Of course, aside from the ongoing savings you can make on your energy bills, the government’s green incentives can see you get a substantial portion of your installation costs back via rebates and subsidies under the Federal Government under the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000.

As you can see, there are many environmental and cost advantages to solar hot water systems.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, Click Here to get in touch with us today.