Hot water is one of those important “can’t live without” services that we all take for granted, until our hot water system stops working. Then we’re usually in such a hurry to get a replacement as quickly and cheaply as possible, we don’t always make the best long-term decision. But it’s important to make the right choice at the time to save money and energy in the long run.
So before you purchase your new hot water system, there are a few things you should consider:
Firstly, ask yourself if your existing hot water system was meeting your needs or if your needs might change in the near future; you may be planning on adding a new bathroom or another person might be moving into your house which will impact your hot water needs.
Secondly, your existing hot water system may have been expensive to run. As water heating typically accounts for a quarter of household energy use, is the way you’re existing system running energy efficient?
If these needs are being met, the most cost effective option is to get a new system of similar size and model. If you feel these needs aren’t being met, you will need to do a bit more research.
So how do you know what you need? Scroll down for our advice.
With access to a wide range of brands and types of hot water systems, hot water heaters, hot water units or hot water tanks, PlumBest can offer competitive prices and qualified servicing.
Contact us at Plumbest today to arrange a free, no obligation quote or book an appointment, or call 1300 137 604 to take advantage of our 24-7 emergency callout service.
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The capacity or size of the hot water system is best determined by the number of bathrooms and people in your home. You want to make sure that you won’t regularly run out of hot water or have insufficient hot water pressure.
A small household with one bathroom and 1-2 people would only require a small capacity system. You would also find in this scenario that a bigger cost outlay for a more energy efficient system may not be worthwhile as it would take a long time for the savings on your energy bill to recover the initial expense.
These systems operate by heating the water as you need it and the capacity or size is measured by how much water it heats per minute. A one bathroom home with up to 2 adults would easily be accommodated by a 10 – 18 litre capacity.
A medium household with two bathrooms and 3-4 people, would also be easily accommodated with an instantaneous or continuous flow hot water system, but would require a larger capacity of 18 – 26 litres per minute. This will deliver good hot water pressure if both showers are in use simultaneously.
Another option is a storage hot water system. These systems operate by heating a large amount of water and storing it in a very well insulated tank ready for you to use. It is not as energy efficient as the instantaneous or continuous flow models as it will heat the water whether you are about to use it or not. However there are ways to ensure the system operates optimally by well insulating the pipework and keeping the temperature setting to around 60 degrees Celsius. Installing it near your wet areas will minimise heat loss through the pipework. A storage system generally provides higher hot water pressure than an instantaneous or continuous flow.
The storage capacity required for a medium household is generally 90 – 135 litres.
A large household with more than two bathrooms and more than 4-5 people will need large capacity storage tanks. A great solution is a quick-recovery storage system which has a capacity of around 130 litres, but delivers up to 340 litres in the first hour of use. It does this by heating the water quicker than a standard storage hot water system and is a great way to ensure everyone in the household gets a nice hot shower while someone else is doing the dishes. This scenario is where the potential long-term energy cost savings justify a larger initial expenditure as the system will get that much use out of it, the savings will be made within the lifetime of the hot water system.
If you have limited space around your property to have a large storage tank, but need a big capacity, installing two instantaneous or continuous flow hot water systems may be a good solution. You can have one supplying a bathroom and the kitchen and another supplying another bathroom and the laundry, for example. The upfront cost would by higher, but again, the savings would make it worthwhile.
Once the capacity or size of the system is determined, you need to consider how best to power your system. The most common fuels used for water heating are gas and electricity.
Electric hot water systems in typical residential households are becoming a thing of the past. In fact there are new limits on electric hot water systems. As standard electric hot water systems produce the same amount of greenhouse emissions per year as a small car; three times as much as gas or solar hot water systems, government regulations are now in place to phase them out.
From 2012 electric hot water systems can’t be installed in any detached, terrace or town house, or any such existing property where there is access to piped natural gas. Of course some exemptions apply and not all states have implemented these regulations yet. Don’t panic; you don’t need to replace a working electric hot water system, but if you own a detached, terrace or town house with an electric hot water system, you may need to consider gas or solar for your next replacement. Electric hot water systems are still available for apartments and other homes where gas or solar aren’t feasible.
Electric water heaters are by far the most expensive option. They are mostly common for small capacity systems– both storage and instantaneous or continuous flow.
Natural gas is much more efficient and produces much less of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide than electricity to heat the same amount of water, but it’s not always available. Plumbest can help you find out if natural gas is available to you. You may be able to get LPG at your property, but while the greenhouse gas emissions are still low, the cost is usually one-and-a-half to three times as much as natural gas or electricity.
Solar energy is by far the best for our environment. Solar hot water systems are more expensive to purchase and have installed, but you get big savings having the sun heat your hot water for free. Solar powered hot water systems are aided with a backup, or “booster”, so you don’t go without hot water during the cloudier months of the year. This booster can either be powered by electricity or natural gas, where again, gas is the most cost and energy efficient.
Solar hot water systems require some roof space and as we’re in the Southern hemisphere, preferably a North-facing aspect to optimise exposure to the sun throughout the day. Collector panels are installed in the optimum position on your roof and connected to your cold water service and an insulated tank. Cold water in these collector panels is heated by the sun and then stored in the tank where the water is kept hot. There a varying capacities for these tanks. A booster is installed to the system which can be manually switched on to heat the water should the solar energy be inefficient that day. This works like a standard storage hot water system.
There are many aspects to consider when choosing your new hot water system and the specialists at Plumbest can help you find the right one, for the right price. We can quote to supply and install a wide range of instantaneous or continuous flow, storage and solar hot water systems. You can also take steps to prolong the life of your hot water system Give us a call today.