Solar heating was once considered the realm of tree-huggers and hippies, but as technology improves and education abounds, more families and businesses are realizing the benefits of installing a solar heating system in their buildings. Solar heat, or heat from the sun, can be harnessed in a variety of ways to cut consumers’ heating costs, and create a renewable source of energy that has less of an impact on the environment. A solar heating system certified by the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) could also increase a home's value. In some locations, energy companies may buy some of the harnessed energy, actually making money for the homeowner.
Most solar heating systems utilize some form of a solar panel. A panel is placed on the house or property and collects the sun's energy, which is then transferred using an individually customized system to heat the building, depending on the build of the solar panel model. Solar heaters can be simple or complex, and there are so many varieties that it would be tough to cover them all. Some systems, especially those using liquids to contain solar energy, are suited for hot climates only, where freezing temperatures are not a factor. Quite a few solar heating systems are made for all environments.
A solar heating system is designed to be maintenance-free, and a solar heating system is a fairly easy do-it-yourself project. Panels are easy to install, and a solar heater requires very little afterthought once installed. Almost always, a solar heating system is designed to last for the life of the building, so while the initial investment may cost as much as $5,000 US Dollars (USD), the initial investment eventually pays for itself in utility bills that can be cut by as much as 40 percent per year. In addition to do-it-yourself plans, many companies also offer full installation plans that offer more guidance.
Many governments support solar heating system programs, and grants may be available to pay for the installation in private homes or businesses. Building codes and regulations vary by location, so it is best to speak with a local government official to figure out if installing a solar heating system is acceptable for the individual consumer's geographic location. It is also advisable to speak with local energy providers to find out if they offer discounts or energy buy-back programs for consumers who use a solar heating system.