Potential savings when using Solar Thermal
The potential savings offered by solar thermal systems are difficult to calculate exactly and depend on a large range of factors. These include:
- Initial system cost (depending on size, quality of parts and installation).
- The energy source that you are replacing (coal, gas, electricity, LPG, oil, etc.).
- The property’s suitability for solar panels (and the total output of the system - usually between 1000-2500kWh in the US).
- The property energy efficiency.
- Any rebates such as state tax credits.
- Your geographical location and solar resource.
- Available financing incentives.
- The cost of the fuel you use for your backup water heating system, if you have one.
- Your energy needs (the solar thermal system will not provide all of your hot water needs).
Though the above range of factors needs to be taken into account when calculating the potential savings offered by solar thermal systems, it is possible to give a rough idea of how much you can expect to save.
The typical output of a domestic solar thermal installation in the US is between 1000kWh and 2500kWh, though once again this depends on individual factors. With state incentives and a reduction in heating bills, you should expect to pay off your initial investment within about ten years in most states of the US.
It is necessary to underline the fact that a solar thermal system will not fully replace your existing water heating system, and will not provide any space heating. The actual percentage of your water heating demand covered by solar thermal will depend on your energy consumption habits (though this figure is usually between 40% and 60%). Obviously, solar thermal systems are most productive in the summer, when there is most sunlight. You will therefore rely more on other, non-renewable energy sources during the winter months.
If you are planning on adding a solar thermal system to a new build or as part of a larger refinancing job as part of a mortgage, then your payments on the money lent may be considerably lower.
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