With the recent trend of increasing power bills, Kenyans are now being encouraged to adopt solar water heaters as a long term solution towards lowering their domestic electricity costs.
This comes after the recent implementation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) on petroleum products that is consequently expected to affect the cost of electricity in the country on top of the recently reviewed power tariffs by the Energy Regulatory Commission.
According to Davis & Shirtlff, the country’s leading Water and Energy Solutions Company, solar water heaters also called solar domestic hot water systems are the most viable solution to cost effective water heating.
As the Davis & Shirtliff Group Chief Executive Officer, David Gatende explained, solar heating systems can be used for both domestic and industrial applications; be it for basic hot water requirements or complex heating solutions and can save one up to 60 per cent in electricity bills.
“The harnessing of solar energy is expanding on every front as concerns about climate change and energy security escalate. Government incentives for harnessing solar energy have also increased and as these costs continue to decline, those of fossil fuels are rising,” Mr Gatende added.
To determine if solar water heating is right for your home, and before installing a solar water heating system; there are a few things to consider as noted by Mr Gatende. For example, whether you have an appropriate place to mount the solar collectors.
“One needs around two square metres of roof space that receives direct sunlight for the most part of the day. The panels do not have to be mounted on a roof as they can also be mounted on the ground, or anywhere in the compound,” Mr Gatende explained.
He added that: “You will also need to have space for a larger, or an extra hot water cylinder. This will apply if a dedicated solar cylinder is not already installed then you will usually need to replace the existing cylinder, or add a dedicated cylinder with a solar heating coil.”
Whether or not your current boiler is compatible with solar water heating is another factor to consider before installing a solar water heater.
“Most conventional boilers and hot water cylinder systems are compatible with solar water heating. Since the solar tanks comes with an electric immersion booster heater, similar to the ones in the boilers, then we advise that the boilers are by-passed and the same hot water plumbing is used to circulate the hot water from the solar tank,” Davis & Shirtliff’s CEO explained.
Mr Gatende said Kenya could follow in the footsteps of countries such as Germany and China that have leveraged on the sun which is not always available to produce solar power on a large scale.
“China, for example, is now home to 27 million rooftop solar water heaters and as of 2015, China is the largest producer and buyer of solar panels. Germany on the other hand has severally met over 50 percent of the nation’s daily energy needs from solar power and hopes to rely on solar and other renewable sources of energy for 100 percent of its electric power by 2050,” he said.