Choosing the right hot water system for your home is just as important as choosing an everyday appliance like a fridge or dishwasher. Whilst your plumber will be able to make suggestions, it is important to understand which hot water system will suit your needs.
What to consider
Each home will require a different hot water system. It largely depends on the size of your household and how many occupants there are. That said, environmental considerations can also come into play.
Maybe a solar hot water system is for you? They are environmentally friendly and will save money on your bill. After all, heating water can make up 30 per cent of your household’s energy use.
When you are looking for a hot water system, the most important things to consider are:
- The number of people in your house
- The size of your home and the number of bathrooms
- The peak times when hot water is used most
- The temperature of the water
- The ability to control that temperature
- The initial cost and longevity of the system
- The energy efficiency and environmental impacts
- The energy star rating
It really depends on what is most important to you. Are you looking to cut down on your energy bill, or do you want a warmer shower on a chilly morning?
Gas hot water systems
Gas hot water systems are the most popular because they can utilise an existing gas connection. They are also cheaper to run than electricity because gas rates do not vary throughout the day. They cost you a third of what electricity does each year, and the continuous systems only heat water as needed.
The three main types of gas hot water systems are storage, continuous flow and solar with instantaneous gas boosting. Storage systems heat water in an insulated tank, whilst continuous flow systems do not use a tank.
You can choose between a gas pilot light system and an electric ignition system. While a pilot light only uses a small amount of gas, electric ignitions are more economical. However, in the instance of a blackout, electric ignitions will not light and you will be left without hot water.
The great thing about continuous flow systems is that they don’t feature a holding tank, so they can be stuck on an outside wall and are perfect for small homes and apartments. If you have a larger home you will more than likely need a storage or solar gas system with a holding tank.
They feature energy star ratings, so it is important to choose the highest rating you can afford to save you money in the long run. Gas hot water systems range in price from $900 to $2000, excluding installation.
Most plumbers these days can supply and install a gas hot water system based on your needs.
Electric hot water systems
Electric hot water systems are usually relatively cheap to buy and install. However, they are the most expensive system to run because they continuously rely on electricity to operate. The major advantage of electric hot water systems is that they can be installed inside or outside. The other advantage is that they maintain mains pressure for your shower, as per the famous jingle – “steady, hot and strong”.
The three principal types of electric systems are storage, continuous flow and heat pump. The storage system heats water in an insulated tank for use when required, whilst the continuous flow only heats water when it is required and does not feature a tank.
Heat pump systems are an underrated contender for energy efficiency. They work in the same manner as a fridge and air conditioner. They transfer heat from one medium to another, typically from the air and into the water. Government rebates are available for anyone who purchases a heat pump, but they are significantly more expensive than a standard storage tank.
When you purchase an electric hot water system you have to consider the off-peak and on-peak costs. Whilst off-peak electricity is not available to all homes, systems that utilise it are cheaper to run. However, they need a larger tank because the water that is heated needs to last for a full day.
If you are going to choose an electric hot water system, you will want to consider your electricity plan and the cost of a system. They range in price from $300 to $1500, excluding installation.
Solar hot water
Solar hot water systems consist of a storage tank and a series of collector panels. The system's efficiency depends on the location of the collection panels. If they are installed in an area that does not receive optimal sunlight, they will be less effective.
Most of the time the storage tanks come with an electric or gas boosted element to help heat the water when the sun is not at its most effective on heavily overcast days. The installation process is not as simple as the other hot water systems on this list. It is an expensive and time-consuming procedure because the installer will need to inspect the home and identify the best area to place the solar collectors.
Government rebates are also available for people who purchase solar hot water systems; however, the systems range in price from $2000 to $7000, excluding installation. If you choose a solar hot water system for your property you will undoubtedly reap the rewards in the long run. Whilst they are expensive to purchase and install, their running costs are significantly lower than the competitors.
Which hot water system is best?
The best hot water system will depend on which specific model fits your needs. You should base your choice on a combination of size, price, ratings, positive reviews and the type of system. The truth is that the best hot water system is going to be different for everyone.
In terms of a specific brand, Rinnai always provides reliable and efficient systems with great value for money. If you are unsure about which hot water system to choose, you can always ask your plumber. A hot water specialist such as Metropolitan Plumbing, have the experience to give good advice. However, it certainly pays to do your research if you are sceptical.