Well, we have taken the plunge and entered the green arena. Today they finished the installation of our solar hot water heater. Carlos (known as Solarch on the Uruguay board) had his people (hey he's got people) install it where it will catch the most sun during the winter.
This particular unit comes with a built in heating element which can supplement the hot water when the sun don't shine. When the water reaches the desired temperature, it shuts off and in the summer the unit can be shut off entirely, while relying on the solar unit, alone.
The glass tubes, in this Chinese import, heat the water inside, and natural convection takes that heated water up to the storage tank and cold water replaces it to be heated. The tank is 200 liters (52 gallons for you Northerners). Now 52 gallons might not seem like much, but it replaces a 110 liter electric tank which was huge by Uruguayan standards. Hot water tanks run from 40 - 80 liters, normally. And by the way, while the solar unit is quite beautiful- do you notice the view behind it???
We expect to have reduced heating costs in the winter and almost none during the rest of the year. We will see. At a cost of $2400, installed, it seemed to be a wise investment, considering the high cost of electricity here.
This week we received: a new couch, washer and dryer, stove, telephone and cable TV and on Satuday, internet will be hooked up. By next week, we will be living in the house. As of this moment, we are making plans for heating, and if things work out, we will have a new cast iron fireplace insert installed- but not before a few chilling nights. Our plans include ductwork to take hot air from the double-chambered stove throughout the house. A sort of forced-air woodburning central heating. Very green, the most inexpensive heating solution and cool to look at, as well. At a base price of $2800 (does not include necessary ducts and installation) it is not cheap. We will keep you up to date on our progress.