What Is Solar Thermal Energy?

Did you know that about 40% of your home’s energy consumption comes from electricity? A good chunk of that electricity, in turn, originates from the combustion of fossil fuels.

Unfortunately, fossil fuels are near depletion because they’re non-renewable. It takes millions of years for them to form underground. So, it’s also no wonder that they’re becoming more expensive.

The good news is that solar thermal energy can help you avoid such skyrocketing costs. We’ll tell you how in this guide, so keep reading.

What Is Solar Thermal Energy?

Solar thermal energy is heat energy generated from the sun’s radiation. That heat then undergoes conversion, transforming into a power source.

You can utilize the converted energy to heat the water you use in your home or place of business. You can even use it to heat rooms in your home or workplace. Power plants also transform it into clean electricity.

Is It the Same as Solar Photovoltaic?

No. Even though solar thermal panels resemble photovoltaic (PV) panels, they’re not the same. Solar thermal is different because it harnesses the sun’s heat to generate energy.

By contrast, solar photovoltaic (PV) energy is a power source converted from sunlight. It relies on the photovoltaic effect of specific semiconductors, such as silicon. These materials react with sunlight and, in doing so, directly generate electricity.

You can check out this solar panel information guide to learn more about PV.

How Can Solar Thermal Benefit You?

First off, it helps you reduce your reliance on fossil fuel-based energy sources. That includes electricity, natural gas, coal, wood, or oils, to name a few. You want to depend less on them since they’re expensive and emit high carbon levels.

In addition, solar thermal energy can help you save on space and water heating costs.

Savings on Space Heating Costs

Space heating makes up more than 40% of the energy consumed by US households. So if your yearly energy bills average $2,000, a whopping $800 of that goes toward heating your home alone.

An active solar thermal system can help reduce those bills by heating your indoor space. It works by harnessing the sun’s heat through roof panels, which they then pass on to a heat transfer fluid. Once hot enough, the fluid carries and moves the heat directly into the space you want to warm up.

Trimming Water Heating Bills

Another way to reap the sun’s heat is through an active solar water heating system. It works much like a solar space heater in that it also uses roof panels and a heat transfer fluid. The fluid transfers the heat to a device known as a heat exchanger.

The heat exchanger, in turn, takes the heat from the liquid and then moves it into the water heater. All that’s left for you to do is to enjoy the hot water for showers, baths, laundry, or dishwashing.

Thus, investing in an active solar water heater can help you save on water heating costs. After all, your hot water usage accounts for about 20% of your yearly energy use.

Time to Go Solar

As you can see, solar thermal energy can help cut your carbon footprint and heating costs. Moreover, many solar incentives exist, including tax credits and utility rebates.

All that should be enough reason to switch to clean solar energy today.

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