Solar energy is one of the energy sources that is gaining in public interest. Solar heating on roofs is one of the most easy ways to reduce your energy costs and reduce the usage of fossil fuels benefiting the environment. Thermal solar energy conversion should not be confused with photovoltaic energy conversion which uses solar energy to produce electricity. Thermal solar energy is where solar radiation is transformed into heat, as for instance in solar boilers.

Solar Panels

Solar energy production is an extremely simple process to understand. Solar panels can be installed on rooftops or any part of your property that receives a lot of sunshine. Solar heat can then be used for solar water heating, solar space heating in buildings, and solar pool heaters if you have a swimming pool. Solar energy is one of a few renewable resources that can be used in energy and power generation. Solar power addresses the environmental concerns we all have because it uses sunlight for generating energy and this is available free, whilst being harmless to the environment. Solar power is undoubtedly a viable energy source for your home because it has no recurring cost and a very low, almost negligible, maintenance cost. Use of Solar Energy can reduce your heating bills by 50%. If all houses used this technology we would significantly reduce our impact on the environment and lower our carbon footprint.

Solar Heat in Homes

An average home requires approximately 3000 KWh per year for its hot water supply. A sensible use for solar energy is hot water production with the help of solar collectors. Only a few years ago, it was very uncommon to find solar energy homes in Europe because solar panels were very expensive and had little return on investment. The main form of heating is gas central heating.

Solar Boilers

In general, solar hot water uses for washing and bathing are usually preferable to solar central heating or solar electric installations. Solar Boilers are designed with fewer moving parts ensuring an extended working life. A major role is now being played by solar boilers for domestic purposes. Although solar boilers can be used on their own, they are most often used in conjunction with traditional water heaters which are powered by gas or electricity. Solar boilers can be used in any type of climate but are most practical in areas which don’t have freezing weather during the wintertime. The majority of the UK now seems to have moved to this position.

Government acceptance

In the UK the energy debate has seen solar heating move in and out of favour. Government grants have been made available and then suspended. This is not the case in other countries. The Dutch government expects that by the year 2020 about one million solar boilers will be in use. Solar power has been accepted in the Netherlands, resulting in the rapid growth of solar applications during the last couple of years.

The government has now established the “feed in tariff” with guaranteed prices for photovoltaic energy generation for the next 20 or so years. This means that a home owner can install a solar panel system upon the roof and receive a guaranteed payment for any electricity that they produce. The current price is in excess of £.40 per unit and this means that a typical household system which could cost from £8000-£12,000 to install can pay back in under 10 years.

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