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9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Economics, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Article
  • Data

Regional Focus


Solar Hot Water

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  • In this article, students will read about the use of thermal energy from solar radiation as a climate solution that supplements electric and gas water heaters, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • This article includes two scenarios for adopting solar water heating, the direct and indirect emissions caused by both solar hot water and existing hot water systems, financial implications, and how much emissions will be reduced for either of the given scenarios.
Teaching Tips


  • This article is well-sourced and paints a conservative and realistic picture of both emissions reductions and financial savings.
  • At the bottom of the article are steps that students and teachers can take to help in the fight against climate change, which is great for students who have climate anxiety or want a sense of agency in such a big issue.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students may need the terms solar thermal collector, polynomial curve, and others defined prior to reading the article.
  • Students should understand what climate change is, that the emissions from burning fossil fuels contribute to climate change, and that humans primarily use fossil fuels for energy.
  • Students should have a basic understanding of statistics, data, and graphs.


  • To introduce the article, teachers can ask students to list all of the times they use hot water at home in a day. The teacher should encourage students to think of things like laundry and dishes as well. Then, the teacher can ask students if they have thought about the energy that is used to heat this water.
  • Civics students can draft a bill using incentives and disincentives to encourage residential areas to implement solar hot water.
  • Students can discuss the reasoning behind the prioritization model mentioned in the integration section, evaluating why some solutions would rank before others on the list.
  • Students can also extend learning by reading about two of the other solutions linked in this article or any solution from the Table of Solutions.
  • Language arts students can write a persuasive letter to a building manager in the area, convincing them to implement solar hot water.
Scientist Notes
This resource presents solar hot water as a solution for residential and commercial buildings. As compared to fossil-fuel water heaters, this technology is conservative. It is factual to state that factors such as high cost, limited space to install the technology, accessibility, and limited knowledge on the use of the technology could influence the scaling up and adoption of the technology. This resource is well-sourced and is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • RST.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.
      • RST.11-12.10 By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-2. Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
      • HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-1. Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
      • HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
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