What's the best hot water system?

Electric Heaters, Gas Heaters, Solar Heaters, Heat Pumps
wave - What's the best hot water system? wave - What's the best hot water system?

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 bath time. No dishes… So we all know we need a reliable hot water system, but what's the best hot water system for you? Here we'll outline all of the different types of hot water systems available to you and which will be the most efficient for your needs.

Gas Hot Water System

Pros:

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.

Cost effective

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.

Cons:

Difficult installation and higher costs 

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. 

Electric Hot Water System

Pros:

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.

Good availability

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).  

Safe

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.

Cons:

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 System

Pros:

Environmentally friendly

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, an electric storage system 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.

Cons:

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.  

Heat Pump Hot Water Systems

Pros:

Energy efficient

By design, heat pump water systems are very energy efficient as they don't have to work overtime to generate heat, instead pull from the heat in the air - even waste heat. This also makes them cost effective, saving you up to two thirds of an energy bill you'd otherwise receive, and can last up to 15 years without replacing.

Booster options

For colder seasons, times of day or for high usage times, you can opt for a booster to be integrated with your heat pump water system to avoid not having enough hot air to satisfy the usage needs of your family. Let's leave the icy cold showers to elite athletes. 

Government incentives 

They don't always exist, and when they do they don't always apply to every state. However, the government does offer rebate incentives to solar and heat pump installations on occasion. It can save you thousands to take advantage of these rebates when they come up, so keep your eye out for them, and check what is available to your state. 

Cons:

Higher up front costs

The cost of installing a heat pump water system can often frighten people off the option. It's undeniable that they can cost up to double that of other water heating options, and it's understandable that this is out of reach for a lot of people. However, their cost-effectiveness over time does offer them the reputation of paying for themselves after a year or so of use. 

Longer heat-up time through high demand

On colder days and night, or during high demand for hot water (typically in the mornings and evenings), heat pump water systems run out of hot air to generate, meaning your running water takes a long time to reach a desirable heat or it needs a while to rest and recharge (so to speak). This does typically become less of an issue in the hotter months, as the natural supply of hot air is more readily available. 

Can be noisy

Some heat pump water systems can be a little loud, and are installed outside, which means they're not ideal to place near the bedroom window of neighbours! Typically they aren't that disruptive to peace, but it's just important to be mindful about where you place your pump so that it doesn't disturb you or people living close.