There is a universal want for households: hot water. We might take it for granted sometimes, but if you’ve ever had your hot water system fail on you, you know the huge inconvenience it is to your whole day. No hot showers. No bathtime. No dishes… So we all know we need a reliable hot water system, but what system is the best for you?
Fast and reliable
Gas water heaters are fast workers, typically taking half the time of electric systems (taking around one hour for 200L). This is perfect if you have a larger family, or a penchant for long showers, and want as close to a guarantee of not running out of hot water as possible.
Natural gas is generally less expensive than electricity, so the use of gas water heating systems will save you some money on your water heating bills.
Functions in blackouts
When a blackout or power outages occur your hot water will keep running for a little while, but electrical hot water systems will eventually run cold. A gas hot water heater that can be ignited with a pilot light (as opposed to an electric ignition), however, will survive through a blackout.
Gas water heaters are notoriously more difficult to install if your home has never had one before and a ventilation system is needing to be installed. That said, having a reliable and qualified gas hot water plumber to do the job, the complex installation is in the hands of professionals and not something that is necessary to worry about.
More expensive upfront
Although the gas water heater will save you on your bills over time, it is a bigger expense upfront. It typically takes about a year for the system to level out that cost.
Lower upfront costs
Unlike the gas heater, electric alternatives are known to be quite reasonably priced upfront, which is appealing for a lot of households. Price is dependent on the size and type of your heater, but relative to other options on the market the electric systems are the most affordable. This is mostly due to the ease of installation.
For the most part, houses will be on an electric grid making it no issue to install. This is compared to gas, where you need to ensure you’re on a natural gas line, or have a propane source available (less common than the electricity).
Saying an electric hot water heater is safe is not to say that a gas one isn’t. However, just by its nature, electricity (that has been sufficiently maintained) is generally a less hazardous element due to gas being combustible and more prone to leaks than any safety concern an electrical system would provide.
Higher operating costs
Electricity can be quite pricey in general, and there’s no exception for water heating. If you have an electric water heater, it will be worth shopping around for your utility provider and find the best deal you can find for your usage needs.
Won’t last a power outage
As mentioned, a blackout will impede your ability to access hot water during the outage and for a time after due to its longer heating time. When there is a storm or other event (such as a vehicle accident involving a power pole), you can expect to lose your hot water. Hot water systems can take up to two hours to reheat.
Solar hot water heaters emit much lower greenhouse gas emissions and exist from a natural heating and energy source (the sun). As residential heating is the culprit for some of our highest contributors of greenhouse gases, this is a really easy and effective way of lifting your carbon footprint.
Lower long term costs
Solar is commonly considered the most cost effective energy source and this is certainly so for water heating. Although you still need to consider your personal hot water usage, solar heating is a good financially viable option if you’re looking to lower your long term water heating bills.
More complex installation
As with gas, the installation process can be easy on you if it is done by a team of licensed and experienced experts (like we have here at Newcastle Hot Water Services), however you do need to consider the configuration of your home with regard to direct sunlight. This might mean removing any obstructions (such as overhanging branches). You will also need to know if your roof can withstand the weight of the solar panels and reinforce if required.
Higher upfront costs
Solar water heating (or solar energy of any description) typically has a high upfront cost. However, it is worth investigating government rebates on these costs as they could bring the initial payment down to a more competitive price.