Solar water heating can refer to either a stand-alone solar hot water system or a heat pump, which heats water using energy from the ambient air.
Solar hot water systems are effective in saving money and energy for consumers while reducing carbon emissions. The purchase of solar hot water technology also supports domestic manufacturing businesses and Australian jobs.
A stand-alone solar hot water system uses collectors on the roof to capture heat. Solar hot water systems with a 'booster' use either natural gas or electricity from the grid as backup to ensure a reliable supply of hot water. Booster systems are much more cost-efficient to run than a standard gas or electric system.
Heat pumps use a small amount of electricity to run a pump, which circulates a refrigerant around the system. This refrigerant picks up heat from the air and transfers it to the stored water. Heat pumps are significantly more efficient than a conventional electric water heater.
Electrical water heating is the largest single source of greenhouse gases from the average Australian home, producing almost a quarter of household emissions.
Installing a solar water heating system will reduce the average household's carbon emissions by 2.4 to 3 tonnes. It can also save residents hundreds of dollars every year compared to an electric hot water system.
The 72,953 solar water heating systems installed in 2020 was the highest number since 2011, taking the total installed across the country to more than 1.3 million units.
The installation of solar water heating systems has remained relatively steady over the past seven years. This followed a boom period for the sector, when the Federal Government's $1600 rebate for the installation of a system resulted in more than 100,000 systems being installed each year from 2009-2011.
In 2020, Victoria continued to be the leading state for solar water heating installations, with more than 36,000 systems installed throughout the year. This was more than three times as many as the next best state, Queensland, which installed 11,787 systems.
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