Quality, Reliability, Durability
Solar water heating technology, pioneered in the U. S., is the oldest and most developed of all renewable energy systems. Modern solar water heating systems can provide a large portion (40 – 80%) of household hot water demand depending on local climate conditions and the size and type of system. Most systems pay for themselves in four to seven years and continue to provide hot water for many years thereafter.
Much of the United States receives abundant sunshine, making solar hot water systems a very economical investment. This map shows the average daily solar radiation available on a south-facing surface measured in megajoules per square meter each day.
Solar pool heating often provides an even better investment. Payback can be as low as two years and the solar system can extend the swimming season by several months without additional cost. Many homeowners have regretted the purchase of a conventional pool heating system after receiving their first utility bill.
Another cost-efficient application for solar energy is pre-heating ventilation air for commercial and industrial facilities.
The vast majority of U. S. manufacturers of solar equipment voluntarily comply with national consensus standards developed by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC). The SRCC tests and certifies collectors as well as complete systems for performance, reliability and durability. In addition, manufacturers and installers comply with the SRCC’s strict requirements for proper installation, labeling and homeowner information regarding operation and maintenance. Assurances of performance and quality are backed by warranties that in many cases exceed the guarantees of other household appliances.
Made in America: In 1960, jobs within the energy industry (including coal mining, oil and gas extraction, petroleum refining, electric and gas utilities) represented about 1.8 percent of total U. S. employment. By 1990 that share fell to 1.2 percent. “This ratio likely will decline further over the next decade,” the U. S. Center for Global Climate Change reported in 1993.
Employment patterns resulting from conventional energy technologies are dominated by the capital-intensive nature of the industry. When measured in jobs per million dollars of annual expenditure, coal, oil, gas and nuclear technologies support among the fewest jobs of any economic activity.” The solar water heating industry is a good example of the type of manufacturing needed to create both new skilled and unskilled jobs.
Realizing the Potential: Several utilities all across the country—from the Sun Belt to the Midwest and Northeast— offer consumers a variety of programs to reduce the initial cost of solar systems. In turn, the utility avoids the cost of installing additional generating capacity, especially power to meet peak energy demand, and using solar energy helps the utility comply with every-increasing restrictions on pollution emissions.
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