Hot running water is one of life’s little luxuries, especially relished in winter for relaxing, warm showers and baths. But did you know that hot water accounts for about 21% of your energy usage and generates about 23% of your house’s greenhouse gas emissions? Not great for our environment!
Generally, the only time you will think about your hot water system is when it breaks or if you are renovating. We recommend that you get to know the type of hot water system you currently have, as well as the alternatives, before the unit dies and you risk days of cold showers! That way, when you need to replace it pronto, you will be ready to tell your plumber exactly which efficient new system you wish to buy. Doing so will ‘future-proof’ your hot water system and your household, by reducing your energy bills AND your carbon footprint.
So, which hot water system do you currently have?
Here is a quick overview, to get you started:
Electric – There are two options here: tank storage or instantaneous. Tank storage keeps hot water stored in a large tank (usually cylindrical), ready to use at all times; in comparison, instantaneous heats water instantly when you turn on the hot water tap. They are both relatively cheap to buy and install but require a lot of electricity to heat your water, and on average cost $700 to $820 a year to run. Ouch!
Gas – Also either tank storage or instantaneous, gas systems heat the water with natural gas through pipes or bottled LPG. They currently cost, on average, $350 to $400 a year to run – however, gas prices are rising. Whilst gas systems are less greenhouse gas-intensive than conventional electric ones, gas is not a renewable energy source and is less environmentally friendly.
Solar – Solar hot water systems consist of solar panels or tubes and a storage tank unit, which is either installed on the roof or at ground level. The storage tank usually has an electric or gas booster element to keep the water hot on days with less sunshine. Ranging from $60 to $350 a year to run, they are very efficient, using less energy than electric and gas options – however, installation is more expensive.
Heat Pump – Heat pump water heaters are highly efficient and use 60% less energy than a conventional electric system. Heat pumps are expensive to purchase and install but are cheaper to run, costing on average only $180 a year. They operate like a refrigerator (but in reverse), extracting heat from the air to warm the water, so are well suited to the Australian climate. Because heat pumps are so energy efficient, they are considered the hot water technology of the future and there are federal rebates (and often state rebates) to reduce installation costs. An added bonus, if you have rooftop solar, is that you could potentially eliminate all hot water running costs by timing your heat pump to operate during daylight hours!
Are you ready to plan and cost a hot water system upgrade for your home?
Our Energy Advisors can get you started by helping to correctly identify your current system and analysing your household’s hot water usage and costs. They will tailor their advice so that you can source quotes for the most efficient and economic hot water system for your home – life’s little luxury.
To speak to an Energy Advisor, call 1300 23 68 55.
For more information about hot water systems, you can also download our independent Complete Guide To Choosing Your Perfect Heat Pump Hot Water System.