Which Hot Water System is Right for Me? – The Pros and Cons of Different Types of Hot Water SystemsCat McCarthy
A faulty hot water system is pretty much the last thing we all want to spend our hard-earned income on, especially with the rising costs of living, however none of us really enjoy having cold showers after the end of a hard day at work either!
A hot water system will usually pick the most inappropriate time to stop working and can choose to torment you with either an annoying trickle or a startling burst. Signs your system may be nearing its end of days can include one or more of the following:
- The system is over 7 years old (Many Williams Landing/ Tarneit/ Truganina/ Point Cook hot water systems are now ageing as the suburbs and their homes become more established)
- Your water isn’t getting as hot as it used to be
- There is a hissing noise coming from your tank
- Corrosion around the tank or fittings
- You have no hot water at all
The first thing our plumbers at McCarthy Plumbing Group will do to determine whether your hot water system needs replacing or simply repairing is ask the age of the system. If the system is under 5 years old, and the problem is with the tank itself, the tank could be replaced under warranty. If the tank is over 5 years old and is out of warranty, a new hot water service will need to be installed (we can check your make and model for exact warranty details). If the problem is with one of the hot water service’s parts or fittings, you may get away with repairing and replacing with new parts (parts often only carry a 1-year warranty).
There are four different hot water system types in Australia; Gas, Solar, Heat Pump and electric hot water systems. These generally work in two different ways; water storage and ‘instantaneous’ or continuous flow systems.
Instantaneous hot water systems are perhaps wrongly termed; when you think about something that is ‘instant’ you expect it straight away. So when you turn the tap on in the shower in the bathroom situated furthest from the hot water unit and expect instant hot water you may blame your plumber for installing a faulty system. The fault however lies with the term ‘instantaneous’. There’s no such thing. Industry has now renamed the term to ‘continuous flow’ to give a more realistic title to rapid hot water.
Let’s get stuck into the different types of hot water systems available in Australia.
Selecting the ideal hot water system for your home in Victoria can be a significant decision due to the costs associated. Each type of system comes with its own set of advantages and drawbacks. Let’s explore the pros and cons of the four common hot water systems to help you make an informed choice based on your needs and preferences.
Gas Hot Water Systems
- Energy Efficiency: Gas systems are known for their energy efficiency, providing a cost-effective solution.
- Rapid Heating: They offer quick hot water delivery, ensuring you have hot water when you need it.
- Reliable in Winter: Gas systems are not weather-dependent, making them suitable for colder seasons.
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Gas systems produce greenhouse gas emissions, which may not align with environmentally conscious choices. This is the reason the Victorian Government has announced a state wide gas ban for new residential estate connections as of 1st Jan 2024.
- Installation Costs: Initial installation can be more expensive than some alternatives.
- Gas Supply Dependent: Availability and cost of gas can be subject to fluctuation.
Solar Hot Water Systems
- Renewable Energy: Solar systems utilize the sun’s energy, making them an environmentally friendly choice.
- Long-Term Savings: Solar systems can result in substantial long-term cost savings on energy bills.
- Government Incentives: Victoria offers incentives and rebates for solar hot water installations.
- High Initial Costs: Solar systems typically have a higher upfront cost.
- Weather Dependent: Solar systems rely on sunlight, which can be a limitation during overcast days. This is particularly relevant in a climate like Melbourne’s. We get an average of 48 sunny days per year compared to somewhere like Coffs Harbour with an average of 131 days per year.
- Backup Required: An electric or gas booster may be needed on cloudy days or during high demand.
Electric Hot Water Systems
- Low Initial Costs: Electric systems are often more affordable to purchase
- Easy Maintenance: They have relatively simple maintenance requirements.
- Easy Installation: Electric systems can be installed almost anywhere, making them versatile(however note that install can be higher as they require both a plumber and electrician).
- High Operational Costs: Electric systems are generally less energy-efficient and result in higher energy bills.
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions: In Victoria, where the electricity grid relies on fossil fuels (such as brown coal), electric systems may contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
- Slower Heating: Electric systems can be slower to heat water compared to gas.
Heat Pump Hot Water Systems
- High Efficiency: Heat pumps are exceptionally energy-efficient and can provide significant savings on energy bills.
- Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions: They have a lower environmental impact compared to gas and electric systems.
- Year-Round Performance: Heat pumps work well in various weather conditions.
- Higher Initial Costs: The upfront cost for heat pump systems can be a lot higher than traditional electric systems. There are government subsidies on many of the cheaper heat pump systems available.
- Space Requirements: Heat pumps require adequate space for installation.
- Noise Levels: Some heat pumps can be very noisy during operation.
In addition to the primary types of hot water systems—gas, solar, electric, and heat pumps—Victoria residents also have the choice between continuous flow (tankless) and storage hot water systems. Let’s explore the pros and cons of each:
Continuous Flow (Tankless) Hot Water Systems:
- Energy Efficiency: Tankless systems only heat water on demand, reducing energy wastage when hot water is not needed. This can lead to significant energy savings.
- Space-Saving: Tankless units are compact and can be installed in smaller spaces, making them ideal for homes with limited room for a storage tank.
- Endless Hot Water: Tankless systems provide an endless supply of hot water, ensuring you never run out during long showers or multiple users.
- Higher Initial Costs: Tankless systems typically have a higher upfront cost compared to storage units and may require specific venting and gas line modifications.
- Limited Flow Rate: The capacity of a tankless unit can be limited, making it essential to choose an appropriately sized system for your household’s hot water demands.
- Cold Water Sandwich: In some cases, there may be a short burst of cold water before the unit begins delivering hot water.
Storage Hot Water Systems:
- Lower Initial Costs: Storage units are generally more affordable to purchase and install, making them a budget-friendly option.
- Consistent Temperature: Water is heated and stored, ensuring a constant supply of hot water without fluctuations in temperature.
- Suitable for Larger Households: Storage units with larger tanks are ideal for homes with high hot water demands, such as larger families.
- Standby Heat Loss: Since the water is continuously heated, storage units can experience standby heat loss, which can lead to higher energy bills.
- Limited Capacity: Once the storage tank is empty, you may need to wait for it to refill and reheat the water, which can be inconvenient during times of high demand.
- Space Requirements: Storage units require space for the tank, which may not be suitable for homes with limited room.
Selecting the Right Hot Water System for Melbourne Conditions
Choosing the right hot water system in Melbourne depends on your priorities, budget, and environmental considerations. Each type of system offers a unique set of benefits and drawbacks, so it’s crucial to weigh your options carefully. Consider your location, climate, family size, and long-term energy efficiency goals to make an informed decision that suits your needs and values. Ultimately, the ideal hot water system for your home should align with your lifestyle and provide the comfort and energy savings you desire. If you would like to discuss either repairing or replacing a hot water system that may be playing up, please call the McCarthy Plumbing Group team on 03 9931 0905.