Solar thermal (ST) is one of the most cost-effective renewable energy systems. Solar thermal water heating systems collect the sun's energy in the form of thermal or heat energy. The system can save a major portion of your utility bill.
It will save you plenty, as you won't need as much gas or electricity to heat water for your home: the sun will do most of the work. Sunlight (always free) heats your water from a regular temperature (less than 10 degrees Fahrenheit) to a temperature somewhere between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This drastically reduces your water heating costs.
A solar thermal water heater system can easily save you $1,000 per year, depending on where you live.
Systems most likely suited to you
Three very cost effective solar thermal systems are as follows:
- A closed loop solar thermal system to supplement heat to your hot water tank. If "closed loop" sounds like technical babble, it only means that a system of piping circulates a liquid (either water or anti-freeze) through a self-enclosed system. The most popular and widely recommended of these is a system using glycol or anti-freeze. This solar thermal system will cost about $4,600 US (with the price decreasing all the time).
- A solar pool heater, popular and practical, is an open loop system. It's called this because water circulates back into the pool, which is (of course) an open system.
- A solar blanket, while not technically a solar thermal system, is an economical way to retain and increase the heat of your pool. We include it here because you really should use one, to help save energy.