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Choosing the Right Energy Source for Your Hot Water System

One of the first things you’ll have to decide when you are choosing a new hot water system is what type of energy source will be powering it. There are four kinds to choose from (electric, gas, solar and air source heat pumps). Each has its own unique advantages and disadvantages that you will have to consider. Some are more expensive initially but have a low running cost, others are very effective but require an appropriate space to install it that not every home will have. Once you have an understanding of which energy source you would like to use, talk it over with your plumber and they will be able to confirm for you whether it is the right choice for your own home.

An electric hot water system, as the name suggests, runs off of your home’s mains power supply. It can either heat water in advance which is stored in a tank or be instantaneous. With an electric hot water systems you won’t have to worry too much about where it is installed. It can be placed either inside or outside of your house as long as you have enough room for the size of unit you choose. Electric hot water systems are often the cheapest units to buy and install but their running costs can actually be the highest. While they are reliable and can sometimes be programmed to heat mainly during off-peak periods, the running cost is often still higher than that of other units.

A gas hot water system is the next option. These units are either connected to your mains gas supply, or if this is not available in your area, an LPG bottle. Currently systems running on mains gas are cheaper to run than electric systems, although this could change with the rise of gas prices. The cost of LPG is also substantially higher than mains gas and you risk running out of hot water as the gas in the bottle runs out. Gas hot water systems are usually installed outside but can be installed inside with the addition of an exhaust vent. Other advantages of gas include a faster heating time than electric and also lower greenhouse gas emissions.

If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly option you will probably be looking at a solar hot water system. These work much the same as electric hot water systems except their source of power comes from the sun. This power is collected by solar panels and then used to heat water in an attached storage tank. The cost to install a solar hot water system is more expensive than that of a gas or electric hot water system but your running costs will be extremely low. If you can afford the outright cost of a solar hot water system it is definitely worth considering and there is a government rebate program in WA that can help offset that cost. You will also need to have an appropriate rooftop installation location that is both structurally sound and gets plenty of sun, although most models feature a gas or electric booster to help out on overcast days.

The final kind of hot water system relies on an air source heat pump. These are an alternative kind of electric system that uses a fan to extract heat from the air. This heat from the air then raises the temperature of the water in your tank. While not as cheap as gas and electric hot water systems they can be a cheaper option to install than solar but are also eligible for the government rebate program. Unlike traditional electric units, heat pumps are highly efficient, lowering both your running costs and carbon footprint. These systems are very noisy though and must be installed in a well vented area, ideally away from any neighbours who might be bothered by the sound. They work best in warm climates but, like solar, can come with a booster for cold days or high demand periods.

There are a lot of factors that come into play just in choosing your hot water system’s energy source but it’s important to consider them carefully. If your home is suitable and you can afford the initial installation costs of a heat pump or solar hot water system you will save yourself a lot of money over the ten plus years you end up using it. In Western Australia the government offers a rebate program when you choose an eligible, energy-saving hot water system whereby you receive Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), which many people then use to receive a discount from their installer. Your next best option is probably a gas system but if you’re still unsure, speak to a plumber and they can help you decide what is right for you.

Pascoe’s has plumbers available throughout Perth who can help you with all your hot water needs. To speak to someone today simply call us on 1300 072 726 or book online for a free quote.

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