Hot Water Guide: Select the Right System for Your Home

Written by in Guides

Whether you’re an experienced buyer, a renovator or first homeowner, choosing the right hot water system for your home is incredibly important.

With an average lifespan of at least 10 years hot water is a long term investment. You want to maximise your energy efficiency, keep the running costs low and make sure your home always has enough hot water.

So when it comes to your home’s hot water system, here’s what you should consider.

Gas, Electricity or Solar – What Do You Have Access To?

The first step in choosing the right hot water system is understanding what fuel source you have access to, or how much it may cost to change.

Gas instantaneous hot water systems range from just south of $700 to $2000 to purchase. Running costs average out to about $340 per year, according to Canstar Blue (for an average three person household).

There are other considerations, however, such as a gas connection fee, gas meter installation and the price of copper pipework and labour.

These prices will likely be included in the base cost of a new build. But if you are adding a gas connection to an existing house you can expect to spend several hundred dollars.

An electric storage tank system will likely cost the same purchase, depending on the size, yet the average energy cost per year is $700-$925, more than double gas.

Why? Water is stored and heated in an electric storage tank all day. While it’s not in use, energy is used to heat water, and is lost. Gas heats water as you need it, eliminating heat lost on standby.

A heat pump hot water system mixes storage tank technology with renewable energy. Warm air is converted into heat energy, kind of like how a reverse cycle air con works. It has running costs similar to gas.

Solar is the biggest investment with an upfront cost of over $2000. However, your yearly running costs can be less than $100 and even with a gas or electric booster should not nudge past $300.

Solar hot water systems are also the most energy efficient unit, with self-sufficiency a positive for many Australians.

How Many People Are Using Your Hot Water?

There’s no point purchasing a unit which doesn’t properly cater to your household.

For example, homes with 1-3 people are best suited to an electric storage tank between 80 litres and 160 litres. This will provide plenty of hot water without worrying about too much simultaneous demand.

But for a family of 4 or more who may shower at the same time, you want at least 150L, and can choose up to 400L.

As for instantaneous, you look at the flow rate. Small homes would look for between 10-16 litres per minute, while 20-32 litres per minute is ideal for big households.

What Is The Local Climate?

Local climate conditions will play a part if you’re considering solar power or a heat pump.

You want warm, sunny conditions to maximise the output as too many overcast days will force reliance on gas or electric boosters.

Hot water supply is unlikely to decrease, however, but there may just be a small spike in bills during the cooler months.

Is There Enough Space?

Where will your hot water system go? That’s the big question many homeowners forget about.

If you live on a narrow block, in a small unit, or your land has an easement, there could be restrictions on both the size and placement.

There are options, though. Storage tanks can be roof mounted or even installed indoor, while gas wall mounted systems can be recessed into external walls. Indoor models are available.

Your new home builder or a local plumbing company can always offer additional advice on the best hot water system installation planning.

What Is Your Budget?

Hot water systems are an investment you want to feel good about, and ultimately, your budget is going to play a role in your hot water system decision. Metropolitan Plumbing understands there are daunting decisions to be made when it comes to choosing what’s right for your house.

Always consider the upfront expenses plus the lifetime spend of an appliance which will last 10+ years. Yes, buying a cheaper hot water system helps now, but will you pay more all up? Like all aspects of your home, choices made in the present affect the future.