Solar Water Heating: Using the sun’s energy to heat water
- Solar water heating systems use the sun’s energy to provide hot water, space heating, and air conditioning.
- More than 1.5 million homes and businesses currently use solar water heating in the United States, representing a capacity of over 1,000 megawatts (MW) of thermal energy generation. Another 400 MW is likely to be installed over the next 3-5 years, according to the US Department of Energy.
- Assuming that 40 percent of existing homes in the United States have sufficient access to sunlight, 29 million solar water-heating systems could be installed. Solar water heaters can operate in any climate. Performance varies depending on how much solar energy is available at the site, as well as how cold the water coming into the system is. The colder the water, the more efficiently the system operates.
- Solar water heaters reduce the need for conventional water heating by about two-thirds and pay for their installation within 4 to 8 years with electricity or natural gas savings. Compared to those with electric water heaters, Florida homeowners with solar water heaters save 50 to 85 percent on their water heating bills, according to the Florida Solar Energy Center.
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