Almost half of energy consumption in the United States is directly associated with heating and cooling, but there is an option that allows homes and businesses to save money on their monthly utility bill, while helping the environment.
Tapping into solar energy to power air conditioning units is one of the fastest emerging, money-saving trends in the HVAC landscape. Clean, cheap, and efficient, solar energy is powering more HVAC units each year.
The advantages of solar-powered HVAC units are numerous, with substantial environmental and tax benefits to boot. Read on to learn why this reliable source of energy is making waves in the HVAC industry.
Solar HVAC Finds Its Place in the Sun
The solar energy industry as a whole continues to expand as solar panel manufacturers continue to innovate. This has only spurred more growth for solar-powered HVAC across the country. Contractors are beginning to take notice of its profitability and broaden their solar-powered HVAC options and offerings.
For this reason, while solar-powered HVAC is relatively new, the market is already booming. Around $435 million in revenue is generated in the U.S. each year, and more than 30,000 solar-powered heating and cooling systems are being installed annually. And it’s no surprise why when you see the results.
In one case study, a Florida public library saved more than 30% on its heating and cooling bill after solar power was installed to take over the building’s 60-ton HVAC system. So how are these solar-powered units so effective?
How Solar-Powered HVAC Works
Many of the newer HVAC units that are being produced are solar-ready. Typically, a minimum of three solar panels is needed to power an HVAC system.
It may sound counterintuitive to use solar heat to cool air, but an air conditioning system requires large amounts of electricity to start up and run the compressor — which pumps the refrigerant through its cycle of removing heat from the home and exchanging it outside through its coils.
With solar-powered HVAC, the use of solar energy reduces or even eliminates how much electricity is used from the grid for this process. As the sun goes down, less energy is needed to run the cooling system because the outside air temperature is much cooler, putting less of a heat load on the home and less strain on the A/C system.
Of course, such an effective process brings with it many upsides.
The Benefits of Solar HVAC
The advantages of using solar-powered HVAC units can be seen across the board, from money-saving efficiency and tax breaks to environmental protection and user-friendliness.
Electricity from solar panels now costs about $1 per watt. As such, it’s estimated that annual savings from HVAC can range from 30 to 65% off annual heating and cooling bills. How is that possible?
The demand for power is reduced during peak hours. The hotter the sun is, the more energy is absorbed. During peak hours, when standard power grids are struggling, a solar-powered HVAC system will be its most cost-efficient — meaning your solar-powered HVAC pays off when it matters most. What’s more, the sun’s energy is clean, meaning homeowners are contributing to the reduction of harmful greenhouse gases and promoting sustainability.
Accessibility & Scalability
Solar energy is also available in remote areas because solar generators can be installed anywhere. In fact, a new generator is installed in America every four minutes. But solar-powered HVAC isn’t only flexible when it comes to your location.
No system is too small or too large to install solar-powered HVAC, as everything is extremely scalable. Repairs and updates to systems are simple. If a solar-powered HVAC system needs to be replaced, its parts can typically be re-fitted into the a new system with minimal work. Solar systems can normally be installed on existing non-solar systems, as well.
That being said, most solar panels last 25 years and require minimum maintenance. As long as panels are properly maintained, there is a high probability they will not have to be replaced over the course of your time in a house.
The federal government’s solar tax credit, which was recently extended through 2021, allows homeowners to deduct 30% of the cost to install a solar energy system from federal taxes. This alone can save thousands of dollars and means that, even before solar panels begin to generate their first blasts of cool air, they are already saving you cash.
These tax credits are clearly making a difference. Since the passage of the Solar Investment Tax Credit in 2006, solar power has grown at an average rate of 68% per year. At the same time, the cost of solar installation has fallen 70% over the past five years, making solar-powered HVAC even more affordable today.
A Sunny Future for Solar HVAC
According to the Solar Market Insight Report, solar installations in the U.S. set a record in 2016, and are expected to reach 22 gigawatts by 2022. Clearly solar is here to stay and solar-powered HVAC is quickly transitioning from a new and exciting technology to one that’s commonplace across American homes.
The future looks bright for solar-powered HVAC, and why shouldn’t it? Homeowners don’t need to look far to see the benefits of these solar-powered units as they continue to reshape the heating the cooling landscape.