Sun Brewed – Offsetting the Costs of Hot Water Usage with Solar Thermal Technology

If you’ve been living under a rock in New York State for the better part of a decade then you probably haven’t recognized the huge strides that the New York State craft beer movement has made. While living comfortably under that same rock, you probably haven’t realized that New York State is now ranked 8th in the country for installed solar capacity. While the majority of the systems are photovoltaic systems (PV) which strictly generate electricity, many home owners and business owners are unaware of Solar Hot Water technology, which is also known as Solar Thermal .

Solar thermal technology allows the user to decrease the cost of their electric or gas bill that is based on heating domestic hot water loads. Businesses that use a large volume of hot water will see the best return on investment from the installation of a solar hot water system. Owning a Solar Thermal system has never been more affordable. NYSERDA offers an attractive incentive for these systems and federal government also offers a 30% tax credit. Businesses that use high volumes of hot water have the potential to see a return on investment in as little as 4 years. The process behind solar thermal and its ability to heat water is relatively simple and very efficient. If you have ever let the water drain out of a garden hose after it has been sitting in the summer sun all day you will be able to understand how Solar Thermal works.

The solar collectors (panels) absorb the sun’s rays, convert them to heat and transfer the heat through a heat-transfer fluid. The heat-transfer fluid is typically a glycol and water mixture in regions where seasonal freezing is a concern. The heat-transfer fluid is then pumped into a heat exchanger located inside the water storage tank where it heats the water. The heated water is then drawn when the user has a call for hot water, supplementing the existing heating system. While the majority of the solar companies in New York State strictly install PV, many of us are installing solar hot water.

One of the many things that is attractive about craft beer is that it gives the consumer the independence to choose a brew that isn’t connected to the large multinationals. Long gone are the days when the average beer drinker wades through endless cans and bottles of mediocrity in the beer section of the local grocery store only to arrive home, crack one open and be infinitely let down. Solar Thermal technology provides that same independence. It provides ENERGY independence and the opportunity for craft breweries to operate independently from the ever increasing energy costs that are supplied by utility companies. Now, instead of watching your utility bills spike upwards, you can watch them decline. It isn’t just an investment in the future of clean energy. It’s an investment in the longevity and sustainability of the brewery itself. As a small business owner there are few greater investments one can make for their business that will provide tangible savings for years to come.

Adam Hamilton