How solar energy benefits our future

Nowadays, society is treating environmental sustainability more importantly than we used to. This is mostly because all outcomes resulting from global warming have been more and more disastrous over the past decade.

For instance, conventional ways of heating systems including hot air (forced air) and hot water heating (hydronic) are hugely dependent on energy converted from gas, oil, or a propane furnace, which essentially would produce a considerable amount of carbon dioxide, which is the ultimate reason for global warming.

According to a research conducted by U.S. Energy Information Administration, for providing 1 million BTU of thermal energy, 228.6 pounds of CO2 will be produced and even the “cleanest” energy resource, natural gas, would actually produce 117 pounds of CO2 in the end. Recently, people have been seeking for alternative ways to produce heat without producing that much CO2, and solar water heating has become popular because of its high efficiency, low energy consumption, and low exhaust emission.

In fact, solar water heating has been applied in a variety of ways in public settings, such as swimming pools, and drinking and washing service in homes. Almost all applications use collectors which are aimed at the sun to collect as much radiation heat as possible, such as seasonal collectors (units are simply designed and often circulate water through plastic pipes, offering little protection from freezing), and flat plate collectors (units may circulate an anti-freeze fluid through insulated pipes) are commonly seen in all applications.

The number of collectors required for a site depends on a number of factors, such as the size of the load (i.e. how much water is needed to heat), the efficiency of the unit, the amount of solar radiation at the site, the amount of storage available, etc.

In terms of savings, if a new home is under construction, the economics are even more attractive. Including the price of a solar water heater in a new 30-year mortgage usually amounts to between $13 and $20 per month. The federal income tax deduction for mortgage interest attributable to the solar system reduces that by about $3–$5 per month. So if the fuel savings are more than $15 per month, the solar investment is profitable immediately. On a monthly basis, eventually saving is more than paying.

For commercial purposes, commercial solar thermal users can take further advantage of federal government subsides of 25% offered through NRCan’s Renewable Energy Deployment Initiative (REDI). Also commercial users benefit from the advantage of consuming the most hot water in the day time so the cost of large storage for heat can be reduced. Commercial solar thermal users can nearly have a payback periods close to zero years.

Furthermore, the maintenance costs for solar water heating systems are generally very low as most of solar water heating systems are under five-year or ten-year warranty which also requires minimum or little maintenance.

In conclusion, solar energy can not only save our budget on heating but also eliminate the emission of CO2. Using more solar energy would surely and eventually become a social trend to protect our nature and keep our energy cost low.

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