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    Solar Water Heating

    Solar panels provide a renewable energy source for your home that will reduce, or even remove, your need to consume energy from the grid.

    There are two types of solar panel – photovoltaic (PV), for generating electricity, and thermal, for heating water – while you may think that solar panels might not be the ideal fit for the UK’s weather, both are good investments.  This is because solar panels depend on daylight, not just on sunlight, allowing you to see the benefit all year round.

    Solar water heating systems, or ‘solar thermal’ systems, use free heat from the sun to warm domestic hot water which is stored in a hot water cylinder.  A conventional boiler or immersion heater can be used to make the water hotter, or to provide hot water when solar energy is limited.

    The benefits of solar water heating are:

    Hot water throughout the year
    The system works all year round, though you’ll need to heat the water further with a boiler or immersion heater during the winter months.
    Reduced energy bills
    Sunlight is free so, once you’ve paid for the initial installation, your hot water costs will be reduced. Whether you have a PV or a thermal system installed, you’ll save money on your energy bills. Installing a well-designed system that meets your usage requirements will make the most of this benefit and will reduce your need to pay for energy from alternative sources.
    Reduced strain on your boiler
    During the summer months a well-designed thermal system should meet most, if not all, of your energy needs. This isn’t just great news for your energy bills, it’ll give your boiler a break too. By placing less strain on your boiler, you’ll prolong its lifespan.
    Lower carbon footprint
    Solar hot water is a green, renewable heating system and can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions.
    You could earn money
    From 2020 the UK Government’s Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) will allow you to sell any surplus energy that your solar panels generate back to your energy supplier. This means that installing solar panels for your home could actually end up earning you money.

    There are two types of solar water heating panels:

    1. Evacuated tubes – a bank of glass tubes mounted on the roof tiles.
    2. Flat plate collectors, which can be fixed on the roof tiles or integrated into the roof.

    Is solar water heating right for your home?

    Do you have a sunny place to put solar panels?
    You’ll need around five square metres of roof space which faces East to West through South and receives direct sunlight for the main part of the day. The panels don’t have to be mounted on a roof however. They can be fixed to a frame on a flat roof or hang from a wall.

    Do you have space for a larger, or an extra, hot water cylinder?
    If a dedicated solar cylinder is not already installed then you will usually need to replace the existing cylinder, or add a dedicated cylinder with a solar heating coil.

    Is your current boiler compatible with solar water heating?
    Most conventional boiler and hot water cylinder systems are compatible with solar water heating. If your boiler is a combination boiler (combi) and you don’t currently have a hot water tank, a solar hot water system may not be compatible.