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Install solar hot water

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Sunlight converts cold water into hot water. No gases are emitted and no one gets hurt. Life is rarely this simple!

The cost of energy is rising and the effect of pollution increasing. Water heating accounts for approximately 30 per cent of an average household's total greenhouse gas emissions and about the same proportion of total household energy use. Visit Climate Change for more information.

Solar hot water systems are highly efficient in their use of solar energy (sunlight) to heat water. The efficiency of solar hot water heaters has increased so much over the past 30 years that solar powered hot water is possible year round for most Australian homes. On cloudy days, gas or electric boosters kick in to ensure you are never without hot water.

By installing an electric boosted solar hot water system or heat pump system, the average Australian household would cut greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 34 tonnes over a 20 year period. This jumps to a saving of over 100 tonnes over a 20 year period for a gas boosted system. It is a great way to reduce the threat of global warming.

In addition, by using the sun's energy to heat water you will reduce your household hot water bills by more than 60 per cent each year, a saving of around $200-$300 each year for the average family (so thousands of dollars over the life of the system).

If you also install renewable electricity technology, then all your hot water can be generated from nature, with no impact on our (or our kids') climate.

A solid, sound and responsible investment in energy efficiency and guilt-free hot baths.

How to do it now!

There are three elements involved in installing a solar hot water system in Australia. These are:

  1. Finding the right solar hot water or heat pump system supplier/installer.
  2. Selecting the right solar hot water or heater pump system for your household.
  3. Applying for (and receiving) government rebates.
  1. Finding the right solar hot water or heat pump system supplier/installer.
    • Will the supplier/installer facilitate the complete process (tank selection, install, rebates)? Their level of experience and the advice that they can offer can be the decisive factor in choosing the right solar hot water or heat pump system.
    • What experience does the company have installing solar hot water or heat pump systems similar to yours? If you have a special need (eg: pool heating) ensure they have done such installations before.
    • What warranty on the installation of the system does the supplier/installer provide? Ensure the supplier/installer will guarantee the quality of their installation.
    • Ensure competing bids are in the same format. By ensuring that all of the bids you receive are made on the same basis, you'll be able to compare the bids easily.
    • Get itemised quotes. This will allow you to evaluate the costs of labour, materials and so on.
  2. Selecting the right solar hot water or heat pump system for your household.
    • Ensure the solar hot water system is the right size for your household. It is critical to choose a system with enough capacity. This will ensure you have sufficient free hot water when the system is operational.

      Capacity (litres)

      No# of people in household

      150-220

      1-2

      220-300

      3-4

      300+

      5+

    • Decide between a split system, a close-coupled (tank-on-roof system or Thermosiphon) system or a heat-pump system. Solar hot water systems can store the heated water either on the roof or in a tank beside the house (like a traditional hot water system). The close-coupled system has fewer moving parts. However, this system may require the roof to be reinforced to bear the additional weight. The split system places the ugly tank out of sight, is generally easier to install and often attracts higher rebates. The split system is also slightly more efficient and, overall, tends to be the cheaper option. Heat pumps use mechanical processes to extract heat from the air and store the heat in water. Heat pumps are powered by electricity yet achieve far greater efficiency in heating water than traditional gas or electric hot water systems.

      For more information on choosing a solar hot water system, check out the technical manual provided on the Australian Governments Your Home website.

    • What is the warranty on the system? A warranty of ten years on the tank and collectors, and five or more on the parts and labour is advisable.

    • What maintenance services are available for the system?

    • How efficiently does the system convert sunlight into heated water? All accredited systems are tested for efficiency and compared to a standard electric hot water system. The more energy displaced, the more RECs are assigned to it. Therefore, the more Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) a system has, the more efficient it is (1 REC = 1 MWH of displaced energy over a ten year period). Evacuated-tubes can be more efficient in some circumstances (e.g. a European winter) but their total collection area is far less than a flat plate collector. Check with your supplier to ensure you get the most efficient and effective system to meet your needs.

    • What is the cost of the system fully installed? The true cost of your solar hot water system can be calculated by subtracting from the installed cost of the system the rebates or RECs you are eligible to receive.

    Climate Clever Shop helps you with what system and how much rebate you get from State and Commonwealth Government.

  3. Government rebates for installing a solar hot water system.

    The Government announced on 28 February 2012 that the Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme – Solar Hot Water Rebate (REBS) will close on 30 June 2012.

    REBS was available to help eligible home-owners, landlords or tenants to replace their electric storage hot water systems with solar or heat pump hot water systems.

    If you have installed a system prior to 28 February 2012, your application must reach the Department within 122 days from the date of installation.

    If you purchased or ordered (and paid a deposit) for a system up to 28 February 2012, but installed it after 28 February 2012, applications must be received by the Department by 30 June 2012.

    For more details about the Solar Hot Water Rebate visit the Clean Energy Regulator - Small-scale Renewable Energy Sheme page.

    Check out our rebates and assistance for more information on both federal and state government rebates.

Why is this action important?

For us to live sustainably we must harness renewable, local and abundant energy sources such as sunlight. This action cuts one-third of the energy use from the average house with a cost-effective investment in sound technology and generates long term rewards; financial, environmental and intergenerational.