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How To Choose A New Hot Water System

Monday, September 26th, 2016

When selecting a new hot water heating system for your home it is important to choose a water heater that will not only provide enough hot water for the entire family when they need it, but also one that it will do so in an energy efficient way, ultimately saving you money long term.  

Choosing the right energy source can have the biggest impact on your savings.  Often your chosen form of energy will also help narrow down your water heating options, as the types of fuel that are available in your area will determine where to begin your search, however there are a few other things to take into account.  Here are five key things to consider when choosing a hot water heating system.

  1. Annual Running Costs.  How much is it likely to cost to heat your water using your chosen form of energy per year? 
  2. The Purchase, Installation And Maintenance Costs.  What will it cost you upfront to purchase the system, have it installed and are there any ongoing maintenance requirements?
  3. Energy Efficiency. To maximize your energy and cost savings, you need to find out how energy efficient a water heating system is.  Many websites have good information on the energy efficiency ratings and saving for various hot water heating systems, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority or EECA is a good place to start.
  4. The Life Span.  It is a good idea to source some reliable information regarding the expected lifespan of your selected hot water heating systems.  Sometimes systems are less likely to stand the test of time and may require budgeting for full or part replacements in the near future. 
  5. How Much Hot Water You Need.  Getting the correct sized water heating system will ensure you do not run out of hot water, and also maximise efficiency.  Consider how many people live in your household now and how many there may be in the future, as a general guide one person on average will use around 50 litres of hot water per day.

Now that you know what to take into consideration it is a good idea to do some research on all of the available water heating options that will suit your circumstances.  Below are the common types of water heaters available.    

Conventional Storage Tank Water Heaters 

This includes both low and high pressure hot water cylinders.  They provide a tank full of hot water that is kept at a set temperature all day, most commonly heated by electric elements, and sometimes gas.  These generally tend to be less expensive to install and have fairly long expected lifespans.  Some are able to be stored outside, giving the added benefit of saving space.

On-Demand Water Heaters 

These heat water instantly as it flows past.  There are two options here; gas or electric continuous flow hot water heating systems.  Both are considered very cost efficient as water is only heated as it is used and they require very little installation space as no storage tank is needed.  Best of all you never run out of hot water.

Heat Pump Water Heaters

Many people have heat pumps installed in their homes for general space heating, but they can also be used to heat water.  The heat pump water heater focuses on moving heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly.  They are considered to be 2-3 times more efficient than standard electric water heating systems.  These are available as either a stand-alone water heating device or as a combination water heating/space heating option and can be retro-fitted to an existing hot water cylinder.   

Solar Water Heaters

Designed to use the sun’s energy to heat hot water, these systems often require a bigger initial outlay but do tend to have the cheapest running costs long term.  They are becoming a more popular choice as electricity prices rise and the technology becomes more readily available.  Sometimes a backup system is required if enough solar energy is not generated during the day. 

Wetback Hot Water Heaters 

These use the energy generated from the household’s wood or pellet burning fire to directly heat hot water as it passes through pipes in the rear of the fire.  Adding a wetback to your fire can be costly and requires a specifically designed hot water cylinder and specially approved types of fires.  The wetback option is only feasible if your hot water cylinder is in close proximity to the fire.  Wetback hot water heaters are not considered a standalone water heating option as the system only works when fire is burning.

 

Choosing a new or replacement hot water heating system is one of the most important decisions you will make when it comes to long term cost benefits within your home.  Water heating costs generally make up about a third of your electricity bill; this is a large chunk of money and it makes sense to put some substantial thought into this decision to provide maximum cost and energy efficiency for the future.

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