Nearly every home in Australia has a hot water storage tank or a continuous hot water system of some form or another. What do we mean by ‘some form or another’? There are many types, some being better than others depending on location, needs, and preferences in the household.
Why Do Hot Water Systems (HWS) Matter?
There’s no getting around the fact that scientifically, the process of converting energy into heat for your home, such as in a hot water system, is wasteful. How wasteful? The numbers speak for themselves.
HWS are the second biggest contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Australia, and they also account for over a fifth of all energy used in the average household. Heating water is wasteful indeed, and all that energy usage hits your wallet in the form of an energy bill!
That’s why making an informed choice about your HWS should be a top priority. Keep your showers nice and warm, but keep your head cool knowing that your bills can be reduced with a good HWS.
Storage Tanks vs Continuous Flow
The two main types of HWS in use in Australia are: hot water storage tanks, and continuous flow water systems. The former is what we’ll be looking at. These systems hold hot water throughout the day and replenish themselves. Continuous flow systems, on the other hand, provide instant (or near-instant) hot water at any time of the day and require no tank.
Storage Tank Types
Below are some of the most common types of HWS that use storage tanks.
Electric HWS are probably the most common in Australia. Connecting to the grid is pretty straightforward and they only take a couple of hours to install. The downside of electric systems is that they are vulnerable to blackouts and electricity costs (especially during peak hours) are amongst the highest of all HWS types.
Gas connections, if present, can let you take advantage of gas-powered HWS. Generally, gas HWS are less expensive in running costs, but gas prices are rising so this may change. Moreover, if no gas connection is present and you choose to use refillable gas containers, the running costs are extremely high over the long run.
Solar systems are somewhat rare, but more Australians are purchasing these due to their environmental friendliness as well as the fact that the running costs are essentially $0. Not right away, mind you, but they will pay themselves off over time. The downside to solar HWS is that their installation costs can be high and you’re also dependent on getting plenty of sunshine.
There are other systems such as hybrid/combination systems which use, for example gas to heat the water but electricity as a sort of ‘backup’. When in doubt, contact a qualified plumber to assist with installation and maintenance, especially if dealing with gas fittings as these can be dangerous.
What’s the Best HWS for Me?
There doesn’t seem to be a clear winner amongst the different types of HWS. It all comes down to your needs and preferences. If your goal is to have hot water, on-demand, all hours of the day, your needs will be quite different than if your goal is to reduce your environmental impact or trim your energy bill down to as low as possible. Contact a reputable plumber to learn more about your options.
Contact the friendly plumbing experts at Endeavour Plumbing today to learn more about HWS installation, maintenance, and replacement.