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Residential Hot Water Systems - Getting Away From Big Bills

Jul 8, 2008
Home water heating is generally a fair proportion of your monthly energy expenses. Some estimates put it at 30% of the total costs. This can really add up, especially over the colder months. This article will cover a few methods that can save you money on water heating costs.

The principal sources of energy that heat water in the home are electricity or gas. For most homes, the water tank or boiler is the center of the water heating process. It is a large cylindrical metal tank. Inside the tank is a glass bottle that has insulation around it. The bottle stores the water and the metal casing protects the bottle from any damage.

Generally underneath the glass bottle (and sometimes above it) are an electric element or elements if you are using electricity or a gas burner if you are using natural gas. These turn on automatically whenever the water falls below a certain temperature that you can set on the thermostat.

The main negative about this type of system is that it constantly has to re-heat the water in the tank if it is not used by the residents.

If the water is not used, this heat is generally lost to the environment regardless of how much insulation is in the tank. This loss of heat has to be replaced by using electricity or gas, even if you don't use the hot water it creates.

Thus the cost of having hot water on tap (so to speak) is the constant running of the heating element or burner. This is a really inefficient way of heating water and there are alternatives.

An alternative that gets around this issue is the tankless water heater. This works as the name suggests. It is pretty much an on demand hot water system.

This system uses a heat exchanger to heat the water. The heat exchanger is also powered by an electrical element or gas burner but these devices are only turned on when the water is about to be used.

Part of the plumbing of the home is wound around the heat exchanger. As the water passes through the plumbing around the heat exchanger, the water is heated.

This type of system can reduce electricity or gas usage. However, it is generally more expensive than the other system but will last longer as it's not used as much.

Another alternative is to go solar. By adding solar power to your water heating system you can save a considerable amount on heating bills. Solar hot water systems really mean that they derive the energy from the Sun but the storage method is essentially the same.

There are two types of solar water systems. The passive system has been around for a long time. In some cases it can provide all your energy needs for hot water but generally it acts as a way to preheat water that is then heated via the traditional method.

The second method is known as an active system. It used solar panels that generate electric current. This can be used to power the entire house, including the heating element in the water heater or the heat exchanger in the tankless water system. Using this method your energy bills would be minimal as the electricity generated would be free.
About the Author
For more information on a solar hot water heating system visit http://www.solarpowerappliances.com
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