(NaturalNews) Let the sun's energy heat your water: It's an idea that's been around for generations and may be making a comeback in the coming years in the face of rising natural gas prices, predicted experts.
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What you need to know - Conventional View
• Solar thermal heaters, unlike solar panels, directs the sun's heat to the water in the tank, using up to half of the sun's heat directly.
• The space needed to power a home water heater with solar energy is "one or two 4-by-10-(foot) panels," Gary Gerber, CEO of Sun Light and Power, told web site CNET.com.
• The investment of solar thermal heaters for your water heater is typically recouped within 10 years - the average lifespan of a water heater. The panels may then be reused to power another water heater for free.
• The use of solar panels in sunny states was routinely seen in the 1900s to 1920s, but popularity waned as the price and availability of electricity and natural gas lowered.
• China, oft criticized for its electricity usage, is actually leading the way for use of solar thermal technology - "60 percent of the world's solar thermal hot water capacity is in that country," reports CNET.
• "No one was motivated to offset the price of gas. Now it is an environmental issue and a cost issue," Chris Beekhuis, chief technology officer at the solar technology monitoring company Fat Spaniel.
Resources you need to know
• Sun Light and Power website: www.sunlightandpower.com
Bottom lineEfficient solar thermal energy for hot water heaters may make a comeback for environmental and economic reasons.