Solar Thermal Retrofit
We are about to start some work on our 1950s Cape Cod here in Pennsylvania. The work includes a new roof and a solar thermal system for domestic hot water. Currently we have a high-efficiency furnace vented out the side of the house via PVC. Our natural gas hot water heater is orphaned in the chimney. It is sluggish to establish draft when firing up. I have installed a CO detector for that reason. We do not have a fireplace or anything else in this chimney. My questions are as follows:
1) If I want to demolish the chimney, what would be the best choice for an efficient, primary hot water heater? We have natural gas and electric available. We also have a family of six and use a fair amount of hot water.
2) The solar thermal system will most likely consists of 2 to 3 flat plate collectors and a tank. We have been using Sun Earth products for solar thermal installs and I will most likely use them on my own home. We plan on a one-story addition in the next year or two that would be approximately 200 ft.². With the due South exposure we plan on a passive solar design. This question is whether to include radiant heat in the addition using the solar thermal system and if so how would this change the installation that we plan to do next month. Another consideration is whether this makes the solar thermal system too complicated or just not really efficient for winter heating. Of course there is a budget and while I am an energy auditor & home performance contractor intrigued with the various green tactics, I really don’t want to unnecessarily over-invest in this house or employ technologies that, at the end of the day, are not that efficient.
Thanks in advance for all your wonderful input.
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