Sustainability 101

Solar Thermal Hot Water Systems: A Cushion Against Disasters like Hurricane Sandy?

Solar ThermalIf buildings affected by hurricane Sandy and other disasters had solar thermal hot water systems, they might have stood a better chance of not losing all of their domestic hot water service. This was particularly the case with electric and oil-fired systems, where deliveries were severely interrupted.

With a range of incentives encouraging the switch to solar thermal such as NYC’s solar empowerment zone) as well as federal benefits that expire in 2016, now is the time to see if solar thermal makes sense for your building.

Need property data? The CUNY interactive online solar map “…allows users to estimate the solar energy potential for every building in New York City’s five boroughs by inputting an address. The map also highlights existing solar installations, displays real-time solar energy production citywide, and allows users to estimate the costs, incentives, and payback period for investing in solar.”

Depending on roof area, roof condition, supplemental systems and shading, solar thermal can supply 100% of hot water needs during summer, and about 50% during winter months. The payback period is estimated at 4 to 6 years against electricity and fuel oil systems, and about 8 years against gas at current pricing

So is your building a good candidate for solar thermal?

Solar thermal systems need to be large enough in volume and/or be already operating off the grid to make sense financially. So buildings like hotels, colleges, long term care facilities, senior residences, cooperative apartment buildings and business like wineries, gyms and freestanding restaurants are ideal candidates for solar thermal.

Solar thermal has worldwide acceptance regardless or local and utility issues surrounding photovoltaics. For new residential construction it is mandated in some form in various countries including Spain, Israel, Portugal, Germany and Italy.

Contact your Great Forest representative to see if solar thermal is right for you.

Read the October 2013 newsletter

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