Anyone who has traveled outside of the relatively wealthy east coast of China has seen the abundance of rooftop solar water heaters on homes and buildings. While the environmental benefits are clear to outside observers, it is the savings on electricity and gas bills that have made the solar water heater so popular in China.

The basic design of the heater is a row of sunlight-capturing pipes angled below an insulated water tank. The crucial technology is the vacuum-insulated glass tubes, which allows heat to stay trapped in the inner tube for use at any time. In the winter or times of little sunlight, the solar water heaters have an accessory that allows you to use a minimal amount of electricity to heat water.

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