How high are your power bills? Have they steadily been increasing? Or maybe you’ve just moved into a new home and almost fainted at the first proper power bill? Even if you are not in a high-power using household, one of the biggest causes of high-power bills is a failing hot water system. Everything has a shelf life, and hot water systems are no exception. If you have an electric hot water cylinder that stores cold water and then tries to keep it constantly heated at a certain temperate you may notice that your power bill starts to sky rocket as the cylinder comes to the end of its life.
Do you need to replace the whole system or just a faulty element?
Although replacing a faulting element might get you a few extra years, a hot water cylinder that is over 15 years old is not efficient and will be costing you money. With the speed in which technology has changed in that time you now have a huge range of options to replace an old hot water system, and these options are more likely to suit your needs far better than what you currently have installed.
Hopefully you have time to plan ahead and work out what the best option for replacing your hot water system will be. Certainly, the cheapest and easiest option is likely to be simply to replace the system you currently have with exactly the same thing (just newer). However, if you do have a bit of time up your sleeve before you have cold showers, spend some time and look at what is available, then talk to a plumber & gas fitter about what options could potentially work in your home.
The Thinking List
On the list of things that you should consider before making that final decision are:
- Is your system compliant? Depending on the age and style you may make the unfortunate discovery that you cannot simply swap out a new system that is exactly the same as the old. For example, regulations in SA generally require the installation of a water efficient showerhead and a low greenhouse gas emission water heater. https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/energy-and-environment/electrical-gas-and-plumbing-safety-and-technical-regulation/plumbing-trades/water-heater-installation-requirements
- What options for powering the system are available? Continuous gas may be wonderful, but if you are in a location where the supplier will not deliver replacement gas bottles as you need them, you could have a problem.
- Will it be economically viable? If this is a family home and you intend to be there for quite a few years, investing in a hot water system that is more expensive to install initially, but which will save you money over a period of years, could be a great idea – but will you get the return on your investment?
- Will it grow with your family? Particularly if you are looking at a system that uses a storage tank, is the cylinder the right size? You want a system that will adapt to changes in your lifestyle without causing problems or needing to be up/down-graded. Consider how many people use hot water now, and what your needs will be for a hot water system in 5 – 10 years’ time. Also talk to your plumber & gas fitter about the efficient life expectancy of the system you are leaning towards. If it is expected to last 20 years, imagine what your life might be like in 20 years’ time – will the system still meet your needs?
Hot Water System Overview
- Gas – either connected to a main line, or supplied in bottles, gas can be used for heating your house and cooking your meals, in addition to heating your water. Are you looking at renovating your kitchen in the near future?
- Electric – although often people think of the electric hot water cylinders, there are also instant options available.
- Solar – this can either be solely responsible for heating your hot water or can be used to boost an electrical supply.
- Heat pump – these can be used as part of your climate control system, or as a standalone water heating system. It is generally recommended that these are most suited for regions that have temperatures of between 4.4ºC–32.2ºC (see here for more information).