Why We’re Using It
One of the most energy-intensive processes in any house is the heating of water, a process that accounts for nearly one-fourth of the energy used in American homes. Heating water impacts both the household budget and the environment, increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and electricity costs—particularly during periods of peak demand.
Solar water heaters reduce energy bills by using the sun’s energy to heat water. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a solar thermal water heater can reduce a home’s water heating costs by as much as 80 percent—a cost savings of hundreds of dollars for an average-size home. By heating water faster and using less water more efficiently, a solar hot water system will ensure that River Vine uses water responsibly and cost-effectively.
How It Works
River Vine’s solar thermal system will integrate four components to provide heating for domestic hot water and the home’s outdoor pool: solar panels to capture the sun’s heat, a heat exchanger, a hot water storage tank and a backup geothermal heat pump (GHP).
Three south-facing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels will be roof-mounted above the garage mechanical room to collect heat from the sun. Self-activating pumps will circulate the solar energy through a heat exchanger, transferring the heat to hot water in the storage tank. A hot water distribution system has been specially designed to assure rapid delivery of the heated water to the kitchen and bathrooms, minimizing energy use and limiting water waste to one cup before hot water reaches any fixture. Low-flow faucets, toilets and showerheads will reduce water consumption, helping achieve the home’s water conservation goals.
River Vine’s solar thermal system is highly efficient, engineered to provide 100% of the required heating for the home’s hot water. The pool has no dedicated heater. The pool water, or a portion of the pool water, will be routed through the heat exchanger when excess solar capacity is available. When there is insufficient energy from the sun, a backup heating system will activate to meet the home’s needs. A water-to-water GHP will help maintain the water temperature in the hot water tanks, ensuring a continual hot water supply.