There are two types of hot water systems; systems that store hot water for use and instantaneous water heaters that heat water as it is required. In the past, there has been debate as to which is the most cost effective with one argument against using fuel to heat and store water that it may not be needed and the other argument stating that using fuel during off-peak times was better value. With the increase in fuel options and the decrease of savings for off-peak usage the old arguments have been turned upside down and consumers now have a tough choice to make.
Store or Heat
Hot water systems that heat and store hot water can be great for families who have a consistent amount of hot water that they use on each given day. As this option stores hot water by the litre, they can run out of hot water. If you are looking to install a hot water storage system make sure you know how much hot water your home uses before choosing your new system.
Types of fuel available for hot water systems
- Electricity – traditional and in many homes, most electrical systems heat water overnight to take advantage of off-peak cheaper rates. They come in various sizes by the litre.
- Gas – gas hot water systems are made in instantaneous or storage systems. These are common in areas that have access to natural gas as running them off bottled LPG can be very expensive.
- Solar – becoming more and more popular with the increase in fuel costs. Solar is certainly cheap to run because the sun is free. Many run in conjunction with other systems to ensure hot water is readily available.
- Slow combustion wood – these systems heat hot water using a wood fire that you may use to keep your house warm. By using this method, you are receiving double use of one resource.
- Geothermal and Oil – these systems are used widely overseas but aren’t common in here in Australia. In colder climates these options also provide heating for the home.
Solar versus Traditional
There are many excellent advantages to solar hot water, both environmental and economic. The government has spent millions of dollars on encouraging Australian homes to install solar hot water systems, partially to take some of the load off our power usage but also because it makes good environmental sense. Many people believe that if they install solar hot water they won’t have hot water if the sun is not shining, this doesn’t need to be the case. Many solar hot water systems are installed alongside a back-up system, such as instantaneous gas hot water heating, to pick up any shortage that they may be. If your solar panel is on your roof facing a northerly aspect then you should benefit from at least some free hot water every day all year round. Many households use simple solar heating systems to heat their swimming pools as well for cost reasons. You will often see black tubing on the roofs of houses, these are usually holding water that is being heated naturally by then sun before being put in swimming pools.
Although solar power may be the cheapest option to run day to day it is also one of the more expensive systems to purchase in comparison. If you are looking to stay in your house for more than five years you may find that a solar system will return the investment that you put into it.