There are two main ways of harnessing the suns energy for use in the home.
The first is solar thermal, which uses the sun’s energy to heat water which compliments a traditional boiler and helps to reduce fuel bills by as much as 70% as well as helping the environment. Solar thermal hot water heating has been used in other European countries for many years but is still seen as being new in the UK. It has been used to great success all over the UK and is now regularly seen on our roof tops especially as all new-build properties must now have some form of renewable energy thanks to the Governments recent “code for sustainable homes”.
Solar thermal energy is the best known and most popular form of domestic renewable energy. The sun’s energy is collected by flat plate collectors or evacuated tubes (usually on the roof) which are orientated towards the sun in order to warm the property’s water. Inside the panels is a glycol mix which acts as antifreeze in order to prevent freezing in cold periods whilst preventing it from boiling in especially hot spells. This hot fluid is then passed through a twincoil cylinder (which looks very similar to traditional hot water cylinders, except for an additional flow and return that passes through the cylinder which helps to transfer the free heat from the sun into the cylinder which would otherwise just be heated by the boiler.
Manufacturers state that an average property should receive around 60-70% of the properties total hot water demands from solar thermal systems. Contrary to common belief, a lot of solar energy can still be gained from solar collectors even on cloudy days.