Direct from Mark in the Field:
More of our Delaware Valley homeowners are beginning to recognize that our West Coast neighbors do not have an exclusive on solar power. In fact, both solar hot water and solar electric power systems are cost-effective energy solutions right here in sunny Philadelphia. Last week we completed a solar hot water installation in Glenside, PA for one of our previous air sealing and insulation customers- “stage two”, if you will, on her road to an energy efficient home.
We designed the system to maximize the amount of sunlight available on the roof. Once the design was finalized and we were ready to install, mounting brackets were secured (in a water-tight fashion) to the roof. A racking system was then fastened to the brackets, ready to hold the solar collectors. For a brief overview on how this all works, a heating liquid is circulated, in a closed-loop system, through the solar collectors on the roof and down to the hot water tank in the basement (or wherever your hot water tank lives). The heated water is stored, as you would traditionally store heated water, ready for use. The installation, on-roof and off-roof, took about three days. Prior to the solar hot water installation, the home’s hot water was heated by fuel oil. So, in roughly 72 hours, this home went from heating water by one of the dirtiest fuel sources, to heating water by the sun.
In the average home, 14% of the energy bill is associated with the cost to heat water and another 46% to heat and cool the living area year round. By combining the energy efficiency improvements installed earlier this year with the solar thermal system, Mark Group has reduced our customer’s total energy usage by almost 35%. Solar incentives included, the cost of the solar hot water system for this home was approximately $3,500. We have projected a 2-4 year payback period, at which point the savings will be all profit.