“This is a technology that works, and works well in the UK. Great strides have been made in the standards of installation but that’s not a reason to rest on our laurels – we’d like to see the industry sit down and look at what can be done to ensure everyone has the same, high quality experience.” – Jaryn Bradford, senior technical manager, Energy Saving Trust
“The key finding that 84% of customers are happy with their solar hot water system is particularly encouraging. The Energy Saving Trust also make some useful observations about how our industry can improve the way it helps customers use their systems to best effect, so as to maximise their energy and carbon savings” – Chief Executive of The Micropower Council
“This trial is the most comprehensive and rigorous ever performed in the UK. The results confirm the benefits of solar heating and provide key insights for solar thermal manufacturers, installers and users of solar heating systems to help users get the most out of this simple, robust and cost-effective technology.” – Stuart Elmes, Founder and Chief Executive of Viridian Solar
Yes, I know we promised the results of our solar water heating trial in September, right here on this very blog.
The truth is, we’re sticklers for getting the numbers right here – and we sent them for a triple-check which took a little longer than expected. Timings aside, the results are in now, and the results are already piquing much interest across industry and householders.
The figures: 88 systems in real homes, properly installed solar water heating systems provide 60 per cent of homes’ hot water needs, Median 39 per cent, lowest performance of 9 per cent.
As often found in trials like this, it’s a lot of really positive signs, as well as some ‘could do better’ ones. On the latter, the good news is that we’ve nailed down what makes the good and less good just that.
The trial found that the quality of system installations and the way householders use their solar water heating system in terms of volume of hot-water use, timing of back-up heating, and temperatures required is critical in achieving the best results.
What’s more, we’re calling for a thorough review of industry guidelines and standards to ensure that all issues uncovered in the trial are fully addressed and householders interested in solar water heating can get the biggest possible gains from their investment.
This is another study which underlines the absolute importance of getting the basics done before your micro-generate. Heat losses from hot-water cylinders varied greatly, from just 230kWh to a whopping 2910kWh per year. Insulate, insulate, insulate.
The majority of installers are doing a good job – but we’d like all installers to go the extra mile in giving consumers detailed guidance on how to get the best out of their system in terms of using the controls and timers, when’s best to use their hot water, and in general, give a realistic idea of what they should expect.
Solar water heating systems can bring the comfort of energy security, as well as carbon and heating bill savings, are one of the simpler green technologies to install in your home, and one of the cheapest, to boot. They have a role to play in our low-carbon future, but there’s a little bit of work to be done to bring solar water heating further into the mainstream.
You can view Here comes the sun: a field trial of solar water heating systems in full here