The sun's energy can be harnessed for many purposes. One of these is to generate heat. By using solar panels (a solar collector) sunlight is directly converted into heat. A right sized solar water heating system will cover 50 to 60% of your hot water heating requirement with free solar energy. Currently over three million households in Europe use a solar heating system.
Solar energy in Ireland
Ireland is not famous for its sunny climate. But believe it or not, the sun's radiation levels in Ireland are comparable with countries such as France, Germany and Austria. Just one square metre on your roof can heat as much hot water in one year as using about 400 to 500 units of electricity.
A solar water heater produces hot water by transforming sunlight into heat through its solar collector. The best way for most households to harness solar energy will be to use it for domestic hot water requirements such as washing, showering, etc. Energy from the solar collector is transferred to the domestic hot water cylinder in the hot press using connecting pipes which carry a solar fluid. A control system ensures the regulation and safety of the every part of the equipment. Simple, efficient and reliable!
Will it work in winter?
Even during the winter period or on cloudy days, the solar collector can harness enough of the sun's energy to raise the water temperature in the hot water cylinder. Thereby saving money and reducing the need for alternative energy sources. Obviously, the more sunshine there is the better the result and more hot water will be generated.
How much will I save?
- The supply and installation of a complete solar water heating system with a three metre square solar collector costs in the region of several thousand euro. Grants are available from The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) for certain renewable energy projects. This is under the Better Energy Programme which will help reduce the capital cost involved.
- With a three metre square solar collector installed, it can be expected that your electricity usage for hot water will reduce by between 1200 and 1500 kWh (units of electricity) per year. This is equal to between €192 and €240 annually based on the Standard Tariff rate. See the latest prices.
- This suggested saving will depend on your current demand for hot water using electricity.
If you want to invest in solar power for your home then it's worth taking time to choose the right system. Quality is of vital importance when choosing a solar water heater and an installer. The SEAI has produced a set of guidelines for homeowners interested in pursuing renewable energy projects. For more information please contact The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland at www.seai.ie.
Find out more about what we have to offer.
Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland: www.seai.ie/Renewables/Solar_Energy/
Available Grants: www.seai.ie/Grants/Better_energy_homes/About_the_Scheme/
Energy Star: www.eu-energystar.org/en/
Energy Saving Trust: www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Generate-your-own-energy/Solar-water-heating
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