With bank rates falling to 1.5% you can probably get a better return by investing in insulation, greater energy efficiency or renewable energy products such as solar water heating.
Solar water heating systems use heat from the sun to work alongside your conventional water heater. The technology is well developed with a large choice of equipment to suit many applications. For domestic hot water there are three main components.
1. Solar panels or collectors are fitted to your roof. They collect heat from the sun's radiation. There are 2 main types of collector, Flat plate systems or Evacuated tubes.
2. A heat transfer system uses the collected heat to heat water;
3. Hot water cylinder that stores the hot water that is heated during the day and supplies it for use later.
Solar water heating can provide you with about a third of your hot water needs. The average domestic system reduces C02 by around 325kg per year and about £65 a year of your hot water bills, when installed in a gas heated home. Solar water heating can be used in the home or for larger applications, such as swimming pools. For a domestic system you will need 3-4 square metres of southeast to southwest facing roof receiving direct sunlight for the main part of the day.
The typical installation cost for a domestic system is £3,000 - £5,000. Evacuated tube systems are more advanced in design than flat plate, and so tend to be more expensive. Planning permission will probably be required, consult your local authority.
Fig 1. kWh of solar energy received per metre squared per year
(courtesy Solar Trade Association)
For more information please go to energysavingtrust
A reference source for environmental products and services. greenbook
LILI Links: energy, insulation, solar_hot_water
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evacuated solar tubes
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