At home

Solar hot water systems

A solar hot water system can substantially reduce your power bills by providing 65 to 80 per cent of your hot water free of charge.

Higher installation costs are compensated by longer-term savings and the reduced impact on the environment. Collector panels should be located on the roof, preferably on a north-facing section at an angle of around 35 degrees above horizontal, and free from any shading.

Angles as low as 15 degrees may be acceptable, but winter performance of the system will be decreased and more panels may be needed to accumulate enough power. Locate the storage cylinder either on the roof or at ground level close to the main hot water outlets (usually in the kitchen and bathroom).

All systems come with a gas, off-peak electric or solid fuel booster to supply hot water during periods of low sunshine. To avoid wasting fuel and money, it is important that booster switches be fitted with timers or easily accessible on/off switches.

You may be entitled to Small-scale Technology Certificates (STC), allowing you to recoup some of your outlay on a solar water heater (or air-sourced heat pump). Created under the Commonwealth Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2001, STCs are a measure of renewable energy that can be traded for cash or a discount on the purchase price of a solar and heat pump hot water system.

For more information on solar energy, see Renewable Energy and Renewable Energy Myths & Facts.

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Page last updated: 27 February 2015