Solar water heaters offer an energy-efficient way to enjoy hot water. They are effective in many climates, including ours in Colorado and Wyoming, and the energy source is free. That means once you’re done installing a solar water heater, you can heat your water at a much lower cost.
Here are six easy steps to help you when selecting a solar water heater for your Colorado or Wyoming home:
Consider the financial side. While it’s more expensive to purchase and install a solar water heater than a standard heater, the payback is often significant. On average, homeowners spend 50 percent to 80 percent less on water heating costs after selecting a solar water heater.
Evaluate the solar resource. If you have unshaded property that faces south, you are a good candidate for solar water heating. Because solar water heaters use both direct and diffused solar radiation to heat your water, it doesn’t matter that Wyoming and most of Colorado are located outside of the Sun Belt.
Size the system. Determine the total solar-collection surface area and storage volume you will need to supply 90 percent to 100 percent of your hot water needs in the summer. A contractor can help you make the calculations.
Determine energy efficiency. Your solar water heater will use a small amount of electricity or gas in addition to solar energy. The greater the heater’s energy output compared with the electricity or gas input, the more efficient the water heater. Higher efficiency means lower operating costs.
Estimate and compare operating costs. Knowing the cost to operate the solar water heater will help you determine the payback period of your investment. Work with a contractor to determine accurate operating costs.
Learn about building codes and regulations. You may need to comply with municipal regulations or obtain a building permit to install a solar water heater on an existing building. Check your local building and zoning rules as well as any subdivision requirements before selecting a solar water heater.