Leichhardt solar water heater survey

Institute for Sustainable Futures
Publication Type:
1999, pp. 1 - 42
Issue Date:
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In June 1994 Leichhardt Council adopted Development Control Plan 17 - Energy Efficient Housing (DCP17). With this plan and the slogan 'Leichhardt goes Solar', Leichhardt Council confirmed their intention to encourage renewable energy systems, in particular regulating for the installation of solar water heater systems (SWH) in most new dwellings and major renovations. Four years later, in winter 1998, this survey was developed to obtain knowledge about how these systems perform, user satisfaction with the systems, what householders think about DCP17 and, finally, what level of financial and energy savings are possible in the Sydney area. The survey utilised personal interviews and a mail survey. Letters were sent to 182 owners or users of solar hot water heaters, and 33 (20%) of them participated in the survey. The results are very informative. In general people are satisfied with their systems, and 73% of the participants would buy a solar hot water heater again. In Sydney, the solar contribution can reduce energy required for water heating by between 60 and 75%. However, the problems of SWH are essentially the high costs of purchase and installation and the low tariffs for off-peak electricity and gas. Because of these factors, solar hot water heaters are often not sufficiently competitive in the financial sense to provide the payback periods expected by many households. Nevertheless, a household with a solar system can save on average $250 per year compared to a standard continuous tariff storage system, and can reduce the yearly emission of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2,000 kg. In general, Leichhardtâs Development Control Plan 17 seems to be an effective tool for implementing renewable energy systems like solar hot water heaters. If the lack of user information, which a number of participants in the survey commented upon, can be remedied, the level of acceptance and satisfaction could be much higher.
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