Let’s cut to the chase. There’s a good chance you’re wasting money on an old hot water system. Electric, gas, solar or heat pump; with the way technology constantly improves even your 10 year old water heater is letting you down in some way.
As a long term investment, you want to have a system you can rely on. And not just for hot water. More than 90 per cent of your lifetime hot water expenses will be running costs and day-to-day use. So you want to truly maximise those savings.
Jim’s Plumbing has crunched the numbers to help you gain a real grasp of why hot water system upgrades and maintenance are essential.
Maintenance is More Than a Simple Tune up
When approximately one quarter of your energy usage goes towards heating water you definitely want to keep those expenses as low as possible. Regular maintenance is a great way to do this.
There are some hidden factors which all combine to slowly drag performance down. Most homeowners wouldn’t even know where to look, either.
For example, the build up of soot in a gas hot water system has been known to increase energy consumption by up to 10 per cent! Similarly, even a thin layer of limescale inside a storage tank can suck up an additional 7 per cent of energy as the thermal efficiency lessens.
A thorough clean with chemical descaling agents is often the only solution, while a hot water specialist can also safely flush the whole system out.
Other important areas of focus include insulation. Lagging is a crucial element to reducing heat loss from pipework, joints and even the hot water unit itself. Older systems are often poorly insulated, especially when compared to modern compatriots.
Inadequate insulation could be wasting up to an additional 10 per cent of energy. And when you pair that with other minor problems, the maths quickly adds up.
Energy Bills: Running the Numbers
As previously alluded to, heating water accounts for about 25 per cent of household energy use on average. Whether that equals $250 or $1000 each year, it’s still something you can control – mostly.
Plus, depending on where you look the figures range from 16 per cent to 30, so your individual circumstances could be very different.
Electric hot water systems are the worst of the group when it comes to energy usage. Those numbers are balanced out when solar is involved, so just remember when we say electricity we mean straight from the power grid.
A 2014 survey by BIS Shrapnel revealed 36 per cent of Australian homes had an electric storage tank. Gas was the dominant fuel at 45 per cent, with both instantaneous and gas storage popular units.
Solar sat a little further back at 13 per cent. Although, recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show an increase to 19 per cent or 1 in 5 Aussies who capitalise on solar hot water.
Solar and Gas Hot Water Energy Ratings
Cast your mind back to 2010 and you may remember this piece of news: the Australian Government announced electric hot water systems would no longer be allowed in new builds. It also planned to phase them out for existing homes, although that idea was never accepted.
Regardless, it begs the question as to whether you are wasting money on an old unit.
Even gas and solar hot water systems have improved considerably over the past decade, too. The Rinnai Infinity 16 ENVIRO is one product which claims to stand above the rest with a 7 star equivalent energy rating.
On average you’d expect a quality gas instantaneous to have a 6 star rating which is elite combustion efficiency. You can also ask your technician about combustion efficiency as they can run tests on the exhaust gases and determine if a unit is performing as it should be. Or, they can let you know if there’s a better alternative.
Solar systems are a tricky prospect as there are no clear cut energy ratings. However, that’s where some expert advice and research can help.
One Final Note on Your Hot Water Replacement
Like everything, always research ahead of any hot water replacement. You want to know the facts, figures and what works for you best.
Think of how many people are at home, the number of bathrooms, your climate and location… it all matters.
Plus it all helps when the time for change is here. Don’t just pick up your phone and ask for the same make and model of hot water unit. Just because it has done the job for 15 years doesn’t mean you need to stick with it.
You don’t have to be bound to a brand name or style of the hot water system. Switch to gas if you want something that takes up less space or costs less to run. Stick to a storage tank if your demand is high. Perhaps solar power is an option to offset long term costs.
The choice is yours. There is plenty of variety in the world.