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Digital Subscriptions > Hobby Farms > Living off Grid 2019 > Solar Thermal System Basics

Solar Thermal System Basics

Heat your water with the sun and a solar thermal system.
PHOTOS BY JOHN D. IVANKO

AERIAL DRONE PHOTO BY LIAM KIVIRIST

Why pay for natural gas or electricity to heat your water when the sun can do it for free if there’s enough sunshine? A solar hot water heating system could meet your needs for heating water in your home, depending on the climate where you live. Not to be confused with solar electric systems that generate electricity from sunlight, solar thermal systems capture the heat from the sun and use it to heat water or even provide space heating in a home. Using abundant and free sunlight reduces the amount of gas or electricity needed to create your hot water supply, saving you money while boosting your self-reliance and sustainability efforts.

“Solar water-heating systems work well in any setting,” says Bob Ramlow, co-author of Solar Water Heating (New Society, 2010) and owner of Artha Sustainable Living Center. Ramlow has designed and installed hundreds of solar thermal systems over the past 40 years. “The only requirement is that there must be a sunny place to locate the collectors.”

Reducing your use of natural gas or electricity with a solar thermal system can save an average homeowner 15 to 25% on total energy use, according to U.S. Department of Energy and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. But before adding a solar hot water heating system, make your use of hot water as efficient as possible by installing low-flow showerheads, aerators on faucets and a waterconserving dishwasher. When replacing a clothes washer, select Energy Star-certified front-loading versions. Many people living off the grid wash fewer and fuller loads of laundry and try to take shorter showers.

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Hobby Farms Living off The Grid 2019, A Happy Homestead, Holistic, Homegrown Health, And More....