How to Choose The Right Hot Water Unit For Your Home

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how to choose the right hot water unit

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If you’ve ever built a house or renovated a bathroom, you will know how important is in choosing the right hot water unit for your home. There are different models, different sizes and energy ratings to consider and it can become a little overwhelming. As a maintenance plumber, this predicament would require an on the spot decision and often it came down to budget and if a certain hot water system was available for instant install.

Even though winter is a fair few months away, it’s common for hot water units to belly up during this season which is the worst time to be without hot water as hot showers are a must in winter. To help you mentally prepare for a new hot water unit, here are some tips on how to choose the right hot water unit for your home. If you’re a plumber, feel free to add your own hints in the comments section.

Gas, Electric or Solar?

Electric hot water units used to be the popular choice for hot water units, but once electricity prices sky rocketed and we became more aware about climate change, gas and solar became more desirable. Over the years electric hot water units have become much more affordable, but heat pumps, gas storage, gas continuous and solar units are dearer to supply and install. I’ve only ever heard good reports on solar hot water systems and if you choose a reputable brand, the system can last between 15 – 20 years. Electric hot water units and gas storage hot water units have a lifespan of 10-15 years. Continuous gas hot water units can vary, offering a longer lifespan as the water doesn’t sit in the unit itself which can cause issues in storage hot water systems.

The key points to think about when choosing the energy type for your hot water unit is:
How much you can afford for the unit and how much are the ongoing energy costs to keep the hot water unit running?
Is your roof the right pitch and does it get enough light for solar panels to feed a solar hot water unit?
Do you have a natural gas line feeding your home?
If not, do you have space for LPG gas cylinders to feed to your hot water unit?

hot water in bath

Gas

A continuous gas hot water unit is a water unit that heats water on demand and doesn’t store hot water so you never run out. Associated costs for running a gas hot water unit is obviously the water supply and gas supply. You also need an electricity connection to light the burner. This is something all homeowners need to be aware of. Older models required manually lighting the burner, but these days most units require a power supply. The advantages of a continuous gas hot water unit means you never run out of hot water, and gas is usually much cheaper than electricity. The unit is also compact and can be hung on an outside wall – although there are conditions of placement next to windows and door openings. In some cases, houses with a lot of openings are unable to have a continuous gas hot water unit because the outdoor area won’t meet the conditions of the gas installation. Energy Australia can assist you with your gas hot water unit installation and ensure the system placement meets the gas code. If you gas hot water unit ever needs to be serviced, Energy Australia can provide maintenance call outs through their home services.

Electric

You need to check with your local council on whether you can install an electric hot water unit. There was a time in Brisbane where homeowners were forced to install a greener hot water system (solar, heat pump or gas), but the laws were relaxed to accommodate household budgets. There is debate on how much a heat pump hot water unit will save you on electricity costs and some models have been recalled because of service issues. There used to be rebates that could be claimed if you installed one of these model hot water units. Many of these have now expired or are no longer offered. It’s still worth researching in your own state if any subsidy is offered for installing a heat pump.

The cons of a mains pressure electric hot water unit is you are limited to how much hot water you can use depending on the size of the tank and they do use more electricity which adds more to your electricity bill. A heat pump uses less electricity so it is a much more environmentally friendly solution.

hot shower

Solar

Solar hot water units are a great system to go with if you really are keen to save energy and utility costs. They can be a big investment when purchased and installed, but you will see a reduction in utility supply costs. It’s important to choose a plumber that has a solar endorsed license when getting one of these systems installed in your home. The long term benefits of solar hot water is it uses less electricity, saving energy and utility costs.

Thinking about what type of hot water unit will work for your home now, helps making the decision closer to the time if you unexpectedly have to replace your hot water unit. The most energy efficient model may not be within your price range, so keep an open mind and choose what you can afford and what you’re prepared to live with.

What kind of hot water unit do you have in your home? Have you ever had to make a spur of the moment decision on a home appliance?

This post has been written in accordance to my Disclosure Policy.