You are thinking about installing a solar water heating system for your business. But you do not know what you do not know. So, what are the most frequent questions businesses ask when exploring the benefits of a solar water heating system?
- Why should I spend time or money on solar water heating system right now?
A: Three primary reasons organizations choose to invest in a solar strategy are:
- Financial benefit
- Positive environmental impact
- Brand elevation
If your business strategy aligns with any or all of these reasons, it probably makes sense to investigate whether a commercial solar water heating system is right for your business.
- How does a solar thermal system improve my bottom line?
A: Most companies focus on the financial benefits of solar water heating systems. Although solar thermal isn’t always the right choice for everyone, many companies can increase their bottom line significantly—primarily regarding utility bills. Water heating is one of the largest unrecognized costs. Different industries have different requirements for energy use—for example, some buildings, like hospitals, operate 24/7, and food service facilities must cook, wash, and clean constantly. Other facilities, like schools, are open during limited hours and even close during the summer. That being the case, the cost of heating water is of major concern to property managers searching for ways to lower costs. But controlling and cutting these costs does not happen overnight—it’s part of a larger educational process that starts with learning more about how you are being billed, your industry’s energy profile, and your building’s specific energy dynamic.
Here’s how solar thermal systems can improve the bottom line:
- Higher efficiency solar systems (Solar Thermal systems carry a higher efficiency per square foot when compared to Solar PV systems. 70% v 20%). Infra-red radiation (heat waves) carries more energy than the visible light radiation upon which most of photovoltaics is dependent. Efficiency is also gained by not having to transform the light energy to electrical energy.
- Built-in energy storage. Moreover, solar systems can easily store thermal energy by use of storage tanks and use it when it is required without interference from immediate environmental conditions; e.g. overnight or during cloudy periods.
- Reducing utility demand charges by also integrating an effective and efficient energy storage solution
- Why now? Shouldn’t I wait for prices to drop or technology to improve?
A: There are a few reasons why installing a solar hot water/solar thermal sooner, rather than later, makes a lot of sense:
- Favorable policies and incentives for installing commercial solar thermal systems that are available today might not be in the future.
- Current technology is quite advanced already thanks to continual innovation over the last few decades. As a result, it is unlikely that we will see the same rapid rate of increase in the efficiency of photovoltaic (PV) solar systems.
- In many cases, even if better policies and incentives are rolled out or slight technology improvements increase power production, the money you would save in the near term by going solar could easily outweigh the benefits you might gain from waiting.
- How can solar hot water/solar thermal directly improve my business?
A: There are two primary ways that installing a solar thermal system can give your business a boost:
- An increased bottom line (see above) frees up money to invest in other strategic areas of your business, which could increase your sales and/or profitability.
- More consumers are embracing green businesses. Multiple studies indicate that consumers conscientiously choose forward-thinking companies that demonstrate environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility. You’ll gain a competitive advantage over companies that do not follow a triple bottom line framework or implement a green strategy.
- If solar hot water is so great, why don’t all businesses install it?
A: Actually, a lot of well-known companies have installed a solar hot water system. For those who have not, many times it is simply because they do not yet know about the full range of benefits you have just read. The fact is, the cost of solar water heating makes it an increasingly appetizing solution.