Yesterday we had a couple of guys come out from near Athens, OH who did a site evaluation for installing a solar thermal device, which is to say a solar hot water heater.  We will be putting up two flat panel collectors on our roof and a 120 gallon storage tank next to our existing hot water heater.

Food grade antifreeze will be heated in the collectors and when warmer than the water in the storage tanks will circulate through a heat exchanger in  the storage tank and heat that water.  When the regular hot water heater is called upon, the replacement water will be drawn from the storage tank.  I will turn down the thermostat in the existing electrical hot water heater which will reduce off cycle standby losses.  Because the water coming in will be preheated, it will recover much quicker so it won’t need to be as hot.

Now the hot water we use has to be mixed with cold water , so even turning it down it will still be plenty warm for our needs.

There will be a control system mounted near the storage tank. I asked if  there will be a way I can monitor the temperatures in the storage tank on my computer and the guy said there was a company that was wanting to give him some expensive equipment that would do that, in exchange for which they want to  be able to capture the data over the internet so that might happen at no extra cost for me.

The only hold up now is waiting for an Amish roofing crew that is coming to install a white standing seam metal roof for our house and garage. Standing seam metal roofing has a 40 year guarantee, longer than asphalt shingles but it costs a lot more also. The thing is if it is white, there is a 30% Federal Tax credit available for it. This is because white roofs reflect heat and reduce demands for energy for cooling during the hot months.

The 30% Federal Tax credit also applies to the solar water heater. IN addition there is  a West Virginia state income tax credit, so I will be getting almost half the cost of the solar thermal system paid for with tax savings.

It has been years (decades?) since we earned enough to pay any income tax, but due to the upfront money  we received this year for leasing our gas rights we will be paying some so this is the year to take advantage of these tax credits for us  because next year we are most likely back to not earning enough for owing income taxes again.

Our water is heated by electricity which here means coal fired electricity which is about the most damaging nonrenewable energy in terms of its impact on the environment in both its extraction and in the burning processes.  What to speak of the problems with gob pits and fly ash storage. So going solar will lessen our dependence on coal and help the environment.

Hopefully this will all transpire by Thanksgiving, I will update as it happens.