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Monday, 14 March 2011

Solar Water Heating in Mongolia



Every so often, we talk about getting solar water heating installed at home. With inexorably rising fuel prices, it would probably save us money in the long run - but it's not all that cheap to install.

How is it, then, that almost everywhere in Mongolia we saw solar heating units tucked in between the tents? And I'm not talking amateur attempts patched together with sellotape - rather, we saw the same professional sealed units everywhere. We even benefitted from the hot water this one supplied for a shower in our Mongolian hotel.


Am I missing something obvious? Maybe it's just closer to cheap imports from China... but I would have expected up-front costs to have more impact in a poorer country, not less. On the other hand, when we went to Cuba the locals told us about their experiences with low energy light bulbs - because lighting is such a huge part of their electric bill, they really noticed the difference when they switched from incandescent bulbs, and no-one would want to go back. I'm not an economist, but I find this fascinating. It seems crazy that we should be complacent about small savings (and, let's face it, most people are) just because we spend more on our energy bills overall.

Thoughts...?

13 comments:

Ginny said...

Good grief! Those are the Mongolian houses? And the solar heaters right beside them. What a juxtaposttion of the old and the new together. I can't quite figure it out either. I Googled "mongolians and solar heaters" and didn't find out anything, but you are third on the list!!

Jeanne said...

Random thoughts:

Humans measure things proportionately. There's even a measurement in psychophics called "just noticeable difference."

How do the costs stack up if you're putting in a brand-new system rather than replacing existing?

Also, China's government may be underwriting some of the cost as part of their energy policy.

Rachel said...

I suspect it may be that we have had more general mains heating and water for longer than in places like Mongolia, so the prices have snuck up on us, and probably many people don't know what they are paying....

Stuff could always be worse said...

I did not know about this? Interesting, we all need these...

liliannattel said...

That is interesting. I wonder if anyone knows.

Galit Breen said...

Fascinating, revealing and poignant as always, girl. love the photo and love the kick in the pants to learn from what isa round us- near and far. Well done, lady!

Scientific Housewife said...

That is very interesting that they have those!

christine said...

We noticed quite a few solar panels whilst on Malta, again, poor people, on low wages. Maybe they've been susidesed by the EU? They have had a drive to encourage everyone to use low energy lightbulbs, too.

Kazzy said...

Wow, pretty cool!

purplume said...

Those are their yurts, eh?
We have solar water here in Hawaii. I love it. Before I used to wash laundry in cold water to save and now I have all the hot water I need.
I'd like to put in a wind generator, but so far the costs don't make it very feasible.

Charlotte said...

Very interesting indeed. I really have no idea, but I want to look into this as well.

Alice Braga said...

Your questions are as thought-provoking as the title of this entry. That we're having the conversation at all and making choices based on respect for our planet are all signs of progress.

If you or your readers want to explore more ways to conserve energy, here's a friendly blog devoted to the topic:

http://tinychoices.com/

Anonymous said...

Hi, I live in Mongolia and we are looking to build such a system as in the photo above. Any idea where this was?

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