If you’re like most Australian homeowners, you’re always on the lookout for ways to save money on your energy bills. One way to do this is by installing a cost-effective hot water system. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the most affordable and energy efficient water heaters available on the market today. So if you’re thinking of upgrading your hot water system, be sure to read on!
Types of hot water systems
There are a variety of hot water systems to choose from, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Storage tank water heaters are the most common type of hot water system, and they typically use natural gas or electricity to heat water. Tankless water heaters, also known as on-demand water heaters or continuous flow systems, provide hot water on demand without storing hot water in a tank. These units are very energy efficient, but they may not be able to meet peak hot water demands. Heat pump water heaters, also known as hybrid water heaters, use physics to move heat from one place to another. These units are very efficient but may not be suitable for homes in colder climates. Solar powered water heaters use the sun’s energy to generate hot water, making them environmentally friendly but typically more expensive than other types of hot water systems. Condensing water heaters are the most efficient type of hot water system, but they require special venting and may not be suitable for all homes. When choosing a hot water system, it is important to consider your hot water needs and the specific features of each type of system to find the best option for your home.
Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of hot water systems.
Storage tank water heaters
A storage tank hot water heater is a type of hot water system that uses a storage tank to store hot water. The hot water is then drawn from the storage tank and used as needed. Storage tank hot water heaters have a number of advantages over other types of hot water heaters:
- They can store hot water for longer periods of time, meaning you have an ample amount of hot water (depending on the tank size) readily available.
- They are relatively inexpensive to purchase and install.
- They are easy to install, meaning that you won’t have to hire a professional plumber.
- They don’t require a high flow rate, meaning that they can be used in homes with low water pressure.
However, they have a number of disadvantages as well:
- They tend to require more space than other types of hot water systems.
- They offer a limited supply of hot water when used for extended periods.
- They waste up to 15% of energy through radiant heat loss.
- They have a life expectancy of only 10 to 15 years.
- They will work continuously to keep the water in the tank heated, even when no one is home and using it.
Tankless water heaters
Tankless hot water heaters provide hot water when you want it without wasting energy:
- They are also much more durable than traditional hot water heaters, with a lifespan that can be up to twice as long.
- Tankless hot water heaters are often less expensive to install and maintain.
- Their space-saving design makes them an ideal choice for homes with limited space.
- Tankless hot water heaters deliver a consistent supply of hot water, meaning you won’t have to worry about running out of hot water halfway through your shower.
However, tankless water heaters come with a few disadvantages that homeowners should be aware of before making a purchase:
- The upfront cost of the unit and installation is typically higher than that of a traditional hot water system.
- Tankless water heaters can take longer to deliver hot water to fixtures when compared to traditional systems.
- They can cause inconsistent water temperature when multiple outlets are in use simultaneously.
- Achieving a lukewarm temperature can be difficult with a tankless water heater.
- During a power outage, there would be no access to hot water as the system requires electricity to function.
Despite these drawbacks, tankless water heaters can still be a good option for some homeowners.
Heat pump water heaters
A heat pump water heater (HPWH) is a hot water system that uses waste heat from a central heating furnace to heat water. The advantages are:
First, they are more efficient than conventional hot water systems. Secondly, HPWHs are also environmentally and family-friendly as they use less energy and emit no greenhouse gases. Third, HPWHs can help keep your home cool during the summer by absorbing heat from the air and transferring it to the hot water tank.
However, there are some disadvantages to using this type of hot water system:
- The greater up-front expense. While a heat pump water heater may have a higher initial cost, it will typically last longer and lower operating costs than other water heaters.
- They can be difficult to use in cold climates. If the temperature outside drops too low, the unit will struggle to maintain an adequate supply of hot water.
- Noise can be an issue with heat pump water heaters, as they tend to be quite noisy when operating.
- These units tend to be quite bulky, so they need a lot of vacant space around them for adequate airflow.
Solar water heaters
A solar hot water system, also called a solar thermosyphon system, uses the sun’s energy to generate hot water. The sun heats up fluid, usually water or glycol, in a collector. The fluid then transfers its heat to the water in the storage tank. The advantages of such systems are:
First, Solar hot water systems are an environmentally friendly way to generate hot water, as they do not produce carbon emissions. Secondly, they are a free source of energy, as they rely on the sun’s energy rather than fossil fuels. Third, Solar hot water systems are also high efficiency, as they can absorb up to 80% of the sun’s energy. Lastly, solar hot water systems take less space than traditional solar panels, as they can be installed on rooftops or on the ground.
Solar water heaters are a great way to save money on your energy bill, but there are a few disadvantages to consider before you install one:
- Solar water heaters require additional rooftop space to install.
- The working of solar heaters depends on the abundance and availability of direct sunlight.
- Solar heaters will not be very helpful in the rainy season or on foggy days.
Condensing water heaters
A condensing water heater is a hot water system that is highly energy efficient. It works by using the heat normally lost in the hot water system to heat the cold water entering the system. There are some advantages to such systems:
- Its process makes the hot water system more efficient and can save you money on your energy bill.
- Condensing water heaters are cheaper to maintain than traditional hot water systems.
- They also have a smaller carbon footprint, making them better for the environment.
- They are safer for homes as they do not produce fumes or other harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
Condensing water heaters have a few disadvantages, too. The first is that they can cause corrosion in your hot water system. This is because the hot water vapour condenses on the cold surfaces of your pipes and fittings, which can corrode over time. The second disadvantage is that condensing water heaters have high initial setup costs. This is because you need to purchase a separate condensing unit and install it properly. Finally, condensing water heaters can be complicated to set up. This is because you need to make sure that the unit is properly ventilated so that the hot water vapour can escape. If you’re not familiar with hot water systems, it’s best to hire a professional plumber to help you with the installation.
Cost-effective hot water systems
There are many factors to consider when deciding if a hot water system is the right choice for you.
First, you need to think about your hot water usage. How much hot water do you use on a daily basis? What time of day do you use it? Do a lot of people shower, or do you live alone? These are all important factors to consider. If you live alone, continuous flow models may be more cost-effective than storage systems.
Second, you need to think about the climate. If you live in a hot climate, you will need a different system than someone who lives in a colder climate. Solar water heaters wouldn’t be efficient in a place where it’s mostly gloomy, and a heat pump water heater may turn your home colder in the winter as it absorbs ambient temperatures to heat water. This would prompt the use of other heating appliances, thus, reducing your home’s energy efficiency.
Third, you need to consider your budget, including both upfront costs and running costs. This would include energy consumption and maintenance and servicing fees; a water heater that would cost less in upfront cost may make up for it in annual energy cost, installation costs, and maintenance and servicing fees. Consider the energy source. Would you end up with a cheaper bill with gas water heaters or electric water heaters?
Fourth, you need to think about the nature of the hot water system. Will it be used for a single home or commercial use? Most businesses would have regular operating hours, and a water heater running after business hours would deplete your operational expense just to keep the water warm. Unless, of course, you run a hotel.
Fifth, you need to consider the water quality and water pressure. Some modern models instantaneous water heater models require a specific water pressure to operate properly, and some storage tanks would not work well with hard water. Some tanks would deteriorate faster with hard water, so it’s best to find a hot water storage tank that is built to last.
Sixth, and finally, you need to consider the property itself. Do you own it, or are you renting? Does it have enough space for a rooftop solar water heater or a heat pump outdoor unit? A solar water heater or heat pump will be a lifelong investment; if you are just renting and would eventually have to leave the property, then that would just be a loss. Also, moving to a new place would mean you can’t bring your solar collector panels along with you as opposed to modern models of continuous flow water heaters that are the size of a backpack.
These are all important factors to take into account when deciding if a hot water system is ultimately cost-effective.
Maintenance and care for your hot water system
A hot water system is a big investment for any homeowner. Not only do you need to consider the purchase cost, but you also need to factor in the cost of installation and ongoing maintenance. Fortunately, hot water systems are designed to last for many years with proper care. The key to prolonging the life of your hot water system is to perform regular maintenance. This includes flushing the tank to remove sediment build-up, checking the anode rod for corrosion, and ensuring that the unit is properly insulated. Additionally, it’s important to have a professional plumber perform an annual inspection to catch any potential problems before they cause significant damage.
At Rowson’s Plumbing Services, we have extensive experience with all types and brands of hot water heaters. We know that hot water heater maintenance and care can be difficult, and we are here to help. With our experience, we can help you maintain your hot water system so that it lasts for years to come. Contact us today to learn more about our effective water heating solution.