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Solar Water Heating


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Major Topic Sections

Fossil-fueled Power
Non-Fossil Generation
End-Use Efficiency
Electricity T&D
Carbon Sequestration
Non-CO2 Reductions
Other GHG Reductions

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Conservation & DSM
Solar Water Heating
Geo. Heat Pumps


 Solar Water Heating



Note that this topic is limited to solar energy used to provide hot water to end-users.  Solar energy as a source of electric power generation is discussed in the topic "Solar Thermal Electric Generation."

Solar hot water heaters use the sun to heat either water or a heat-transfer fluid, applicable to a wide range of residential and commercial situations, and are an established and mature technology which displaces, either directly or indirectly, the combustion of fossil fuels. Solar water heating equipment can assist in reducing peak electric demand and therefore reducing GHG emissions in areas where solar energy resources are sufficient.

On a larger scale, solar hot water systems can provide both process heat and cooling:


Solar Process Heat. These systems consist of several thousand square feet of ground-mounted collectors, pumps, heat exchangers, controls, and one or more large storage tanks. Typically, they provide hot water and hot water space heating for large institutions such as schools, office buildings, prisons, and military bases.

  Active Solar Cooling. Evaporative cooling systems, usually appropriate for hot dry climates, can be powered with solar technology. In humid climates, desiccant evaporative cooling systems use the same evaporative concept to cool air, but they also include a desiccant wheel to dry incoming air. Waste heat from the building, natural gas, or solar technologies can be used to regenerate the desiccant wheel. Evaporative cooling is a CFC-free and energy-efficient way to cool commercial buildings. In absorption solar cooling, an absorption device uses a heat source, such as natural gas or a large solar collector, to evaporate refrigerant.

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 References, Sources, and Other Useful Data

American Solar Energy Society (ASES)

The American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is a national organization dedicated to advancing the use of solar energy for the benefit of U.S. citizens and the global environment. ASES promotes the widespread near- and long-term use of solar energy.

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “Solar Water Heating”

This website discusses various types of active and passive solar water heating systems, various applications of each, issues, and available tax credits and utility rebates.

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “Solar Heating and Cooling”

Using passive solar design techniques to heat and cool your home can be both environmentally friendly and cost effective. Passive solar design can also help reduce your cooling costs. A passive solar house requires careful design and site orientation, which depend on the local climate.

U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewables Energy Laboratory, “Passive Solar Design for the Home” (DOE/GO-102001-1105, FS121, Feb. 2001)

This 8-page document provides an overview of residential passive solar design and how it can be used to keep a home warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

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Last revised: Dec. 11, 2009.