Solar thermal technology uses sunlight to generate low-cost environmentally safe energy. It is one of the cleanest forms of renewable energy and it works by using daylight to heat fluid in panels on roof tops. This energy is used to heat water and other fluids, and can also be used for cooling. There are many advantages in using this type of resource. It helps the environment, saves on utility bills, and increases the value of a home. Some states provide incentives to residential, industrial and commercial customers through tax credits, grants, loans, rebates, exemption from local property taxes, to help defray the upfront costs.
This technology is used in a wide variety of applications. Some applications that are commonly seen include, but are not limited to, hot water heaters, and heating systems, pools and hot tubs. But what many people don’t know is that besides heating water and other fluids, solar thermal technology can also reduce air-conditioning and other cooling costs. Homeowners benefit hugely by the amount of savings this method can afford throughout the day and particularly during peak hours. Electricity rates are usually higher during peak hours. Which usually occur during the middle of the day while the sun is shining and the air conditioning load is at its highest. Owning a solar thermal system can eventually eliminate the huge costs of utilities and save homeowners a bundle.
Heating using this process will also provide incredible savings for households since water heating generally accounts for 25% of a home's energy usage. Solar thermal systems are easy to own, inexpensive to operate and offer a positive return on investment that is commonly between 5-7 years. With a minimum 25-year lifespan, these systems continue paying back long after they’ve paid for themselves. Heating water with this method offers a savings of 75% to 85% off regular water bills. Even more attractive is the fact that, in most cases, the existing pump will usually suffice. One pump should be capable for circulating pool water through the home solar panels and the heater. Also, no additional maintenance beyond usual pool winterizing is necessary.
In Europe, feed in tariffs are believed to be the answer to the industrial world's dependency on fossil fuels. Feed in tariffs or FITs guarantee that anyone who generates electricity from a renewable energy source is able to sell that electricity into the grid and receive payments for kilowatts generated. In recent years the United States and Canada started to catch on and began following suit. Currently, there are almost 30 states that have implemented some form of FIT program or net metering to promote the use of renewable energy and counter some of the startup costs. Some utilities offer net metering so that when the system generates more power than needed, the excess goes to the utility grid and the meter runs backward.
Using the suns natural resource is a cost effective investment to homes and businesses and offers excellent benefits. Solar thermal is widely thought to be the energy source of choice for the future. Those utilizing this process are making a difference by helping the communities, pocket books and the environment!