Ireland is importing over 90% of the fuel necessary for energy production and buildings account for about 50% of the total energy demand.
It is now widely accepted that we are coming to the end of using fossil fuels the way we have done for the last 50 years or so. Apart from the environmental problems, the earth’s reserves are diminishing at a frightening rate. This applies to both, oil and gas and with our high dependency on these, we make ourselves very vulnerable in regards potential worldwide conflicts. Energy is considered to be the major factor to trigger such conflicts in the near future, since the world economy demands an ever-increasing energy supply. We should all aim to minimise the use of fossil fuels by gradually switching over to renewable energy sources. They are well proven, dependable and cost effective.
Solar energy will never become exhausted, there is no charge anyone can put on it and at present we are only utilising a tiny fraction of available solar radiation. With average house prices, the cost of a solar system is only an additional 2 4% of the purchase price. This is not a major investment for a system, which will have paid for itself in approximately 8-10 years and from thereon will act as a source of income.
The average household uses more hot water in summer than in winter, when more outdoor activity and better weather increases demand. Solar is the only method of heating which saves more money the more it is used! Solar systems are recognised by all building societies, banks and finance houses as viable home improvement and the value and market appeal of a property with a solar system is significantly increased.
The use of a conventional boiler system for the production of hot water during the summer is very inefficient and operating performance of only 20 25% are not uncommon. Not using the boiler system during the summer can also prolong its life. Electricity is a very valuable form of energy that, in Ireland, is at over 90% generated by burning fossil fuel in power stations. System and transmission losses mean that efficiency for heat generation is reduced to approx. 30%. To substitute electricity for water heating with an active solar system makes perfect financial & environmental sense.
Development is proceeding in the direction that solar energy systems will be directly built into the houses and will become part of the building envelope. The buildings, which are being renovated now, and the new buildings which are being constructed now must be anticipated to be in use both 50 and 100 years from now. It is therefore important that we are beginning to consider the demands that we will make regarding the energy supply in a generation’s time. The still common perception that Ireland does not receive enough sunshine to make solar energy an option is long been proven wrong. Householders and businesses can make significant savings on their fuel bills by installing efficient and environmentally friendly solar technology. Social costs should also be considered. In principle, one should look beyond the economic profitability of solar energy, as its social advantages are normally not considered. The social costs of the environmental damage and illnesses, which result from the emission of pollutants are not added to the prices of fossil fuels. In this way, a distortion of the economic relationships results. In an economic consideration, the so called ‘external costs’ which are incurred at the present time through environmental damage, transport of fuel, subsidies, etc., should be charged in addition to the costs of energy generation.
Simple changes in policy can quickly stimulate a significant growth in the size of the solar water heating market. In Austria, for example, a “solar prepared” cylinder has to be fitted every time a new hot water cylinder is required and in The Netherlands the energy specifications of houses as set in building regulations are being tightened to such an extent that it was recently predicted that 80% of new houses would incorporate solar water heating systems.
By having a solar panel array on the roof, you are making a visible statement that you and your family are committed to a cleaner environment.
Scandinavian Homes have a long-standing record of building comfortable, energy efficient houses using sustainable building materials. They always stress the importance of passive solar design to reduce heating costs and allow a maximum of natural light into the building. They also encourage the installation of solar water heating and have formed a partnership with Solaris Solar Energy Systems, the most successful solar energy company in Ireland. The ever-increasing number of Scandinavian Home customers enjoying ‘free’ solar heating is a clear indication of an even more successful co-operation in the future.