Solar Hot Water Systems

Lower utility bills and greenhouse gases with a solar hot water system.

Chances are you’ve already considered cutting down on your hot water use or at least turning down the thermostat on your water heater. After all, these are easy ways to slim down your utility bill—12 per cent of which typically arises from water heating. The time may have come to take even stronger measures, however, such as investing in a new, more efficient water heater—or even a solar hot water system. So, where do you start?

Choosing A Hot Water Heater

The right water heater for your home may depend on your energy source and ventilation. Options include electric, natural gas, propane and heating oil water heaters. A heating professional can help you weigh the options. If you opt for electric, choose an ENERGY STAR high efficiency model with low “Standby Loss” (Heat lost per hour, per square foot of tank surface area.) These can perform 40 per cent better than conventional models, according to Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency. (For technical retrofit questions and questions about the federal ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes Program, visit or call toll-free 1-800 O-Canada.)

High or ultra-efficient gas-fired water heaters are typically the cheapest way to heat water. A solar hot water system, however, is an investment that pays for itself over time, because it gathers up to 50 percent of the energy required to heat water from free, renewable sunshine. (Although you still need a traditional water heater as back up, the savings are worth it.)

Going Solar

A solar domestic hot water system typically has a storage tank, plus a collector that’s installed on an unshaded, south-facing area, such as the ground or your roof. Active solar systems may use controls and pumps to actually move hot water from the collector to the storage tank. Models that meet the The Home Energy Retrofit program rebate requirements must meet the CAN/CSA F378.87 standard and provide a minimum energy contribution of 6000 mega joules per year. To find out where to purchase a solar hot water system, visit the Canadian Solar Industries Association directory. Be sure to get all of the necessary permits required and consider hiring a Certified Canadian Solar Hot Water System Installer to install it to CSA standards.

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