Power by the sun’s nat­u­ral en­ergy

Whitsunday Times - - DOMAIN -

QUEENS­LAND is called the Sun­shine State for a rea­son – we have lots of sun­shine.

But even with such a moniker most house­holds are not us­ing this free nat­u­ral re­source to heat their hot wa­ter, save money and help the en­vi­ron­ment.

For most Queens­land house­holds, around 35 per cent of their an­nual en­ergy use is for hot wa­ter.

How­ever, by us­ing the sun’s en­ergy to heat wa­ter, the av­er­age house­hold can re­duce its yearly hot wa­ter costs by 85 per cent when com­pared to con­ven­tional elec­tric sys­tems.

And as well as cost­ing less to run, so­lar hot wa­ter sys­tems have a sig­nif­i­cant en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fit as their re­duced en­ergy use means less green­house gases pro­duced.

“Cli­mate change has risen in promi­nence as a ma­jor global is­sue and is now the sin­gle big­gest en­vi­ron­men­tal threat fac­ing us to­day,” EPA Sus­tain­able In­dus­tries Di­vi­sion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Dr John Cole said.

“Re­duc­ing en­ergy and wa­ter use is crit­i­cal to man­ag­ing cli­mate change. Sus­tain­able houses do that and save money for the home­owner.”

The Real Es­tate In­sti­tute of Queens­land (REIQ) is work­ing in part­ner­ship with the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) to pro­mote sus­tain­able hous­ing prac­tices. “De­spite Queens­land’s year-round abun­dance of so­lar en­ergy, most Queens­land house­holds still use elec­tric hot wa­ter sys­tems, which are the sin­gle largest elec­tric­ity con­sum­ing item in most homes,” REIQ ex­ec­u­tive man­ager Leonie Fos­ter said.

“As so­lar hot wa­ter sys­tems pro­vide the great­est po­ten­tial for sav­ings on en­ergy costs and green­house emis­sions, they make smart sense for home­own­ers and the en­vi­ron­ment.”

A so­lar hot wa­ter sys­tem works by tak­ing en­ergy from the sun in a sim­i­lar way that a hose does when it is left ly­ing in the sun. Heat from the sun is ab­sorbed through so­lar col­lec­tors. This so­lar en­ergy heats wa­ter, which cir­cu­lates through the col­lec­tors and into a stor­age tank, ready for use.

Queens­land Sus­tain­able Hous­ing Reg­u­la­tions came into ef­fect on 1 March 2006, re­quir­ing green­house-ef­fi­cient hot wa­ter sys­tems to be in­stalled in all new houses.

Ac­cord­ing to the EPA, there are two types of so­lar hot wa­ter sys­tems avail­able to be in­stalled in homes.

Ther­mosiphon sys­tem: this is the most com­mon sys­tem avail­able. It con­sists of roof-mounted so­lar col­lec­tors with a stor­age tank po­si­tioned im­me­di­ately above the col­lec­tors; and

Split sys­tem or forced cir­cu­la­tion: for house­hold­ers who pre­fer their tank at ground level, this sys­tem has the so­lar col­lec­tors on the roof and the stor­age tank on the ground. Th­ese sys­tems re­quire a small elec­tric pump and as a re­sult are gen­er­ally more ex­pen­sive to buy and op­er­ate than a ther­mosiphon sys­tem.

Ms Fos­ter said the num­ber of peo­ple in your house­hold should de­ter­mine the size of the stor­age tank. “In­stalling a so­lar hot wa­ter sys­tem can save av­er­age house­holds be­tween $200 and $250 a year on elec­tric­ity bills, with many sys­tems be­ing also el­i­gi­ble for re­bates from the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment,” she said.

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