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Environmental comparison of solar water heating and electrical water heating

Environmental comparison of solar water heating and electrical water heating

how sustainable is…

This study compares the environmental impact of a typical solar water heater in Greece, consisting of:

  • 3m² solar collector (glass topped insulated box with a flat solar absorber made of sheet metal, attached to copper pipes, painted black) and
  • 150L water tank

with the environmental impact of heating water with electricity from the (Greek) electricity grid.

The study assumes that the solar water heater has a useful life of 20 years. The study includes the environmental impacts from solar heater manufacture, distribution, use and disposal.

The study considers a range of environmental issues, including:

  • global warming
  • mineral extraction
  • non-renewable energy consumption
  • toxicity
  • ozone layer depletion
  • land use

The study finds that for all but one of the environmental issues considered, the use of a solar hot water heater leads to a significant reduction of the environmental impact (by 80% or more). The only area where the solar water heater has a greater impact on the environment than grid electricity is mineral extraction.

Link to full report

While we make every effort to be accurate, we do not claim that this summary is representative. Please refer to our Legal Disclaimer for details.

what can I do to reduce my environmental footprint?

This study is based on a typical Greek solar water heater and the electricity typically available from the Greek electricity network. If you live in Greece, clearly you want to be using a solar hot water heater to reduce the impact on the environment from heating water.

From this study, it is not obvious if the same is true elsewhere. Also, the study is based on a flat panel solar water heater and does not consider evacuated tube solar water heaters, which are common in many other countries. However, on the face of it, it would seem unlikely that the results would be significantly different in other countries or for evacuated tube solar water heating technology, unless the electricity available from the grid was generated from renewable fuels.

[We hope to add further information on this topic soon]

Report Rating: 3 out of 3

Report Published: 2011

Country: Greece

Author(s): G. Gaidajis, K. Angelakoglou

Publisher: Journal of Engineering Science and Technology Review

Funder: not known

Keywords: life cycle analysis, LCA, cradle to grave analysis, environmental footprint, environmental performance, environmental impact, light bulb, lamp, halogen, tungsten, compact fluorescent, incandescent

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