Reduced Carbon Footprint
For a typical family of four, about 20% to 33% of your home energy usage is ‘domestic’ hot water, and your solar hot water system will ‘displace’ about three quarters of this energy. The most cost-effective way to use renewable technologies in your home is by incorporating solar hot water. Other ‘green’ investments do not compare in terms of carbon reduction.
Consider this: according to the University of Wisconsin’s Solar Energy Laboratory, an average four-person household with an electric water heater needs about 6,400 kilowatt hours of electricity per year to heat water for their home.
Assuming electricity is generated by a typical power plant with an efficiency of around 30 percent; this means the average electric water heater is responsible for about 3 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, a significant contributor to CO2 pollution – and possibly global warming.
Let’s put this into perspective. The average car emits about 4 tons of CO2 annually … so this means electric hot water heaters generate about as much CO2 as the average automobile – every year!
So, for every solar hot water system installed, the effect is like taking one small car off the road for the life of the solar heating system. Imagine if just 25% of U.S. homes installed solar hot water systems … the drop in C02 emissions would be staggering.
According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), there are 1.5 million solar water heaters already in use in U.S. homes and businesses. Since Solar water heater systems can work effectively in just about any climate, it’s estimated that 40 percent of all U.S. homes have sufficient access to sunlight to make it cost effective for them to install solar water heaters right now.
Upgrading your windows, adding insulation and upgrading an existing hot water heater or furnace are all excellent ideas, but these investments do not produce the reduction in carbon output of solar hot water provides.
The US, and especially the Northeast, lag far behind the rest of the world in adopting this proven technology. China, for example, is aggressively adopting this technology and has installed hot water heaters on approximately 50% of all households.