Wiser water heating

Alternative energy sources to power your hot water


Water heating

Photo by Servamatic Solar Systems

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Sunny side up

These use sunshine to preheat domestic water. The flat panels contain a loop of thermal-conductive pipes that heat water and ferry it into the cottage. For year-round cold-climate use, the pipes usually contain antifreeze instead of water, with the captured heat transferred to the hot-water system via a heat exchanger. You’ll shell out $4,000 or more for a system, but the payback time can be as little as six years if you use electric heating, 12 years for natural gas.

Hot water, now!

On-demand tankless water heaters heat only the water you need, as you need it. Water is warmed as it flows through the device for an unlimited stream (got teenage kids?). A wood-burning water heater is slower, but can be hooked up to existing plumbing, and indoors, the stove can double as a space heater.

Save money

Other cheap and easy energy-saving options include lowering the water-heater temperature to 50°C, using the vacation setting when you won’t be there for a few days, dressing up your tank with an insulating jacket or cover, and insulating the pipes that carry the hot water to your shower.

This article was originally published on September 23, 2009

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