Lacking in Solar Forethought

Remember I installed a passive solar water heater in July, then I gave the electric bill update?  Well, here’s the winter update.  I’m thankful the installer talked me into installing a relief valve on the roof, intended to open as the temperature drops.  Even in our climate, we had a light freeze a few weeks ago that caused the water heater valve to open up and begin dripping.  There were icicles on the roof, a rare event (I’ll get pics next time).  This is a good thing since it keeps the exposed pipes from bursting.  As far as efficiency is concerned, it has dropped drastically in the winter months (Nov. – Feb.)  I have trees on the south of my property that block the sun in the winter – not good solar design I’ve discovered.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t thinking about passive solar at the time of design, so maybe others can learn from my mistakes.  Some sunlight does reach over the trees, but it’s only for about 2-3 hours, not enough to sustain a descent temperature.  The installation contractor did warn me about this.  As far as the electric bill is concerned, it’s gone down to about $77 since the air conditioning has been off and the heat has been minimal.  In fact, the heat hasn’t been on for a week or two.  I keep the thermostat on about 66 degrees F and purchased a little space heater to put under my desk if I need it.  Since I’m in my office all day, there is no need to heat the rest of the house.  That hardly matters when it’s 75 outside like today. 

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4 thoughts on “Lacking in Solar Forethought

  1. are you keeping some sort of chart of all this? would be interesting to look at it after two years or so.

    i’d take the 75 degrees today. i’m freezing my patootie off over here! make sure you bring your warmest warmth when you venture this direction.

  2. I think it’s called a temperature relief value and it’s located outside next to solar storage tank. I’m not sure if it’s on the inlet or outlet side, but as the temperature drops the valve opens up to allow a steady drip of water to flow out. I think the valve cost an extra $100. Seeing as how my solar water heater is on the second floor and we needed a crane to install, the valve was well worth it. It must be standard in northern climates. The water heater I installed is a ProgressiveTube Passive Solar Heating System and it was replumbed to my traditional 40 gal. electric water heater. There are other systems that aren’t actual holding tanks like mine and probably don’t require the relief valve. Thanks for inquiring.

  3. Yes! Keeping in mind the drastic environmental changes and rising fuel prices going Solar is one option open to all at minimal investments. The Solar Water heating systems are so easy to install and most of them come in a Do-it Yourself kit, With the technological advancement the once heavy, bulky hard to move panels are now available widely in light weight easy to carry by one personal only packages. The advancement in technology is not only limited to light weight, but for those concern about the aesthetics of the panels, the good news is that the panels are now available with a variety of trim colors to choose from and can be easily matched to your roof. Saving about $25.oo on ones electricity bill every month on a residence of 4. We all use hot water, as one of our basic needs and what can be a better way, than helping our environment, saving our resources and ourself’s some money other than by investing in a Solar Water Heating System.
    There are a couple useful websites I’m aware off, that I would like to share with you
    1. http://www.dsireusa.org – is a comprehensive source of information on state, local
    , utility ans federal incentives that promote renewable engery ans energy efficieny.
    2. http://www.powerpartnerssolar.com – one of the many manufacturers of certified Solar Water Heating Systems available. One place I saw the light weight panels and trim color options I was mentioning earlier.
    Lastly, the local utilites in some areas also provide additional rebates and incentives for adding a Solar Water Heating Sytem to your exisitng water tank.
    Keep the look out on. Feel Good and save- money for you, environment for us.

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