Everything you need to know about hot water systems
A hot shower after a long day is just one of the many creature comforts that we enjoy, but often take for granted. Not only are we spoiled for choice by different shower heads and taps, but there are also a range of different hot water systems to meet your home’s needs. This begs the question - which is the best hot water system for your home, and what should you consider when looking for them?
Different types of hot water systems
There are two main types of hot water systems that are used in Australia, which run off four main energy sources.
- Storage-based water systems – electric, gas, heat pump, and solar
- Instantaneous water systems – electric and gas
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best type of water system for your home. These include the storage capacity of the hot water unit, the energy efficiency of the system type, insulation capabilities, up-front costs, and how effective they are in the event of power or energy loss.
Below are some advantages and disadvantages of each type of water system that can help you get started with your research. It is also recommended that you contact an accredited plumber to discuss the best price and hot water system option for your home.
Electric hot water systems
An electric hot water system consists of an insulated storage tank (usually cylindrical), where hot water is kept, ready to be used. The water is stored at a pre-set temperature of 60-80°C, heated in the storage tank by one or more electric elements.
Heat pump water systems
Hot water systems that use heat pumps work similarly to a refrigerator. Electricity is used to pump a refrigerant through the water heater. The refrigerant transfers the heat absorbed through the air to the water in the tank.
Electric heat-pump hot water heaters use much less electricity than electric storage water heaters, which makes them the most efficient hot water systems currently available.
Gas hot water systems
Gas hot water systems make up almost half of Australia’s water heaters and can come in different forms (storage based and instantaneous). They usually have a continuously burning pilot flame that ignites the main burner when it is needed. Heat is then transferred from the gas burner through the bottom of the cylinder.
Solar hot water systems
A solar water heater uses energy from the sun to heat water for your home. Solar panels on your roof collect energy from the sun’s rays to heat water which flows to the homeowner's storage tank, ready for use. They can provide between 50-90% of your hot water needs, helping to drastically reduce your energy bill and carbon footprint.
Tankless water heaters
Tankless water heaters are "on-demand" heating options that heat water as demanded, rather than having a tank that heats to the desired temperature. Electric tankless water heaters are typically around 98% more efficient than tank heaters, which helps make them one of the most environmentally friendly options.
Hybrid heat-pump hot water heaters
Drawing heat from the tank's air, hybrid water heaters use a pump and coil system that warms the water, before delivering it to your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry. Though, obviously, unlike the tankless options, hybrid heaters utilise a tank to bring transfer hot water throughout homes.
Rebates and incentives for hot water systems
Depending on the state or territory you live in, there may be rebates and incentives available to you. This will also depend on the type of hot water system you have installed at your property, the price of the STC (Small-Scale Technology Certificate) in the market, and the eligibility criteria outlined by the state or territory applicable to you.
To help give you an idea of what to expect, here are the currently available rebates:
Whether you are upgrading an existing hot water system or looking for a more efficient alternative, it’s important to always do your own research to determine which system and size will best serve your needs. That means speaking with installers, retailers, and other industry experts, as well as reading online blogs, forums, and reviews, and even watching relevant videos. Furthermore, sites like Canstar Blue can be helpful in providing the deciding factor, when it’s time to make a final choice.