The use of solar energy for household has been on the increase for decades now and the trend has spread throughout the world. The biggest reasons for this are the electricity bill savings and concerns for the overall alarming energy efficiency issues that our planet keeps undergoing. However, the dilemma whether household use of solar energy helps save money when investment/savings ratio is concerned is still present. Let us look into the matter by examining solar water heaters and find out how cost effective they truly are.
Answering the question of cost effectiveness of solar heaters is by no means a simple task. To start, there are a number of parameters that need to be compared in order to give an as precise answer as possible. Next, the most important notion that needs to be understood is that there’s not one universal answer. There are a number of different solar water heater models available and the comparison needs to be made between a currently used system, which can also be very different, and a particular model.
Important factors to be considered
The factors that are inseparable parts of the solar water heater cost effectiveness equation are: the quantity of hot water used in the household, current water heating system performance, geographic location of the household, solar resource capacity and the cost of the fuel your current system uses (electricity, gas or oil, to name just the most common ones). Having valid data for all these factors is necessary in order to provide the final answer. Naturally, all modern systems, which tend to be of higher quality and efficiency, such as Rheem hot water solution, are far superior to any of the older ones and they should be the model you include in the comparison.
The factors that need to be compared are the annual operating costs of a particular solar system and the one that is currently used. What matters the most when former is concerned are the system’s solar energy factor (SEF) and the costs of the auxiliary tank fuel. When latter is concerned, the energy factor (EF) and fuel costs are the most important factor in estimating costs. Therefore, the comparison will make sense and give valid data only when all these factors are known.
Starting from scratch
If you are building a new home, the economics related to cost effectiveness of solar water heaters is very favourable. When a 30 year period is discussed (as an average mortgage period) the participation of solar heater instalment amounts to between $15 and $20 a month. Applying for one of grants or rebates offered reduces these costs by $3 to $5 a month. Therefore, if the savings calculated using the formula from the paragraph above show a figure above $10 to $15 per month, the answer is pretty simple, since you’ll be saving more than you’re paying.
To sum up, in order to get a precise answer to the title question, you need to have precise data about the important factors needed for comparison. As you can see from the paragraph above, when starting from scratch, solar water heaters are a safe bet when it comes to cost effectiveness. In all other cases, what needs to be done first is the selection and choice of the solar water heater that will meet your requirements and then compared its data to the parameters of the water heating system you’re currently using. Buying a solar water heater only to join the hype will bring benefits to no one but the manufacturers.