Are you getting the most from your solar hot water system?Posted: Thursday, 12th July, 2012
Hot water is power hungry
It takes a lot of energy to heat water. To raise the temperature of a bucket of water by one degree, you’d need to add more than twice the energy than if it was, say, a bucket of oil – or a huge 3500 times more than if it were a bucket’s worth of air (volumetrically speaking).*
This makes it easier to understand why such a huge proportion of home electricity usage is due to hot water. If you have an electric hot water heater, it could be responsible for around a third of your power bill. And that’s why a lot of Australian households have found it’s economical to install solar hot water heater systems on their roofs and use the sun to power their hot showers.
A solar hot water system can reduce your hot water cost by 30 to 80 percent – but to get the most out of it, it has to be installed and used correctly.
CSIRO’s study: how to supercharge your solar hot water system
CSIRO was interested to see whether there are things households can do to improve the performance of their systems, so we carried out a pilot study in collaboration with the City of Newcastle and the University of Wollongong.
Thirty households took part in the study, which aimed to investigate how households used their solar hot water systems, how those systems were installed, and where future savings could be made.
Based on the results of the pilot study, CSIRO’s put together a simple checklist for owners of solar hot water systems and people looking to install or upgrade.
Two of the top tips for getting the most out of your system are:
- making sure your pipes are insulated
- keeping an eye on how you use your booster switch.
These simple things can make a huge difference to your energy usage, carbon emissions, and power bill.
* Interesting side note: because of this fact, staying in the shower to keep warm on a cold winter’s morning uses 20 times as much energy as stepping out and standing under a two-lamp heater instead. (This factoid from the excellent CSIRO home energy saving handbook.)