One of the most cost-effective ways to include renewable technologies into a building is by incorporating solar hot water. A typical residential solar water-heating system reduces the need for conventional water heating by about two-thirds. It minimizes the expense of electricity or fossil fuel to heat the water and reduces the associated environmental impacts.

Most solar water-heating systems for buildings have two main parts: a solar collector and a storage tank. The most common collector used in solar hot water systems is the flat-plate collector.

Solar water heating systems can vary significantly in design. The various system designs can be classified as passive or active and as direct (also called open loop) or indirect (also called closed loop). Passive systems operate without pumps and control. Active solar water heaters incorporate pumps and controls to move heat transfer fluids from the collectors to the storage tanks.

You can drastically reduce your winter fuel costs by installing a solar heating system in your home. Not only does that save you a lot of money on utility bills in the long run, it also has an immediate effect on the environment. In more traditional heating methods, your home produces air pollution and global warming each time you turn the heat on. With a solar heating system, you are eliminating this source of environmental harm.

Even in northern climates, an active solar heating system used with traditional heating backup will save you a large percentage of your home energy costs. While you may not be eliminating your dependence on fossil fuel alternatives, it will certainly dramatically reduce your personal contribution to global warming and climate change.