Hot water system: What to know before you buy?

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According to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, hot water heating makes up approximately 30% of the average household energy bill, so it’s important to make an informed decision when choosing the right water heating system.

Types of hot water systems in New Zealand

In New Zealand, there are three main types of hot water heating systems. These include: Electric hot water cylinders, gas continuous flow, and heat pump water heaters.

Electric hot water cylinders

Electric hot water cylinders are the most common form of water heating in New Zealand. They use an electric element in an insulated tank to heat water to a temperature that’s been set by a thermostat.

Though this type of hot water heating system has been said to be the most expensive, this is not always the case, as the costs depend on efficiency and the power tariffs that are available to you.

To keep running costs low, electric hot water cylinders can be set up to run on a night-rate electricity supply, which is much cheaper. That being said, your hot water cylinder must be large enough to sufficiently store all the hot water you’ll need for a day.

Gas continuous flow

Gas continuous flow water heating systems heat the water as and when you need it, so you’ll have unlimited amounts of hot water. The gas continuous flow system burns gas to heat water as it runs through the system. This can run on either natural gas or LPG.

Gas continuous flow califonts are usually installed outside the house, so you don’t need to worry too much about taking up space inside your home.

Keep in mind, however, that this type of hot water heating system wastes more water as you wait for the water to be heated. It also requires an electrical supply, which means you’ll be stuck without hot water during a power outage. In addition, running costs can get quite high if you’re using LPG bottles.

Heat pump water heaters

Heat pump water heaters heat water using the same type of technology that heat pumps use to heat rooms. Since they move heat, rather than make heat, these systems are much more efficient than traditional electric or gas water heating systems.

This hot water heating system uses a compressor unit to extract energy from the outdoor air to heat water, which is stored in an insulated hot water tank.

A well designed and installed heat pump water heater is more energy efficient than standard electrical heaters and can be put on a night rate to reduce energy costs.

For a more detailed comparison between hot water heating systems, read Canstar Blue’s article here.

What to consider when choosing to buy a hot water heating system

When choosing to buy a new hot water heating system, there are a few things that you should first take into consideration. This includes:

  • How much hot water do you use?
  • Environmental considerations.
  • System sizing and space requirements.
  • Design and layout of your home.

How much hot water do you use?

Before making a decision on which hot water heating system to buy, first consider how much hot water you are currently using. Consider how many people live in your home and how many showers and baths they generally have each day. In addition, think about whether your dishwasher and washing machine require hot water from the hot water heating system.

Having an idea about how much hot water you need daily and how much the hot water heating system is required to produce will help with your decision on which system to purchase.

Environmental considerations

According to Energywise, gas water heating systems cause greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. This is significantly more so than other water heater systems that use electricity or renewable fuels.

When choosing a hot water heating system, you should take into consideration the long-term impact these systems can have, not only on your energy bill, but also on the environment.

A highly efficient hot water heating system that makes use of renewable energy, such as electricity, wood, or even the sun’s heat, is recommended as it helps to reduce the impact your hot water usage has on the environment.

System sizing and space requirements

When selecting the best hot water heating system for your home, you need to first take note of whether your chosen heating system is able to fit in your home and whether it is sufficient for the amount of hot water you need.

Regardless of the type of hot water heating system you choose, it’s recommended that you speak to your supplier about the correct sizing.

Design and layout of your home

If you’re looking to design your new home and are interested in installing a hot water heating system, make sure to group areas that require hot water, such as the bathroom, kitchen, laundry and toilets, closer together. Not only will this reduce your plumbing costs but you’ll also save on your energy bill as it will take less time for hot water to reach areas that are closer together. The shorter pipes also mean that less hot water is likely to be wasted.

Installing a new hot water system

It’s important to note that installing or changing your hot water heating system requires building consent from your local council first. In addition, given the complexity of installing a new system, the work must be carried out by registered plumbers. If you prefer to use a gas system, a registered gas fitter is required. There may be instances where an electrician may be needed as well.

The costs involved in getting consent and hiring a tradesperson to install your new hot water heating system can be quite costly, so it’s important to budget for this and weigh up whether these installation costs would be cancelled out by long-term savings.

Keeping running costs low

As heating water does account for a third of your energy bill, it’s worth taking some time to check that your electricity provider and plan suits your needs. Check out Canstar Blue’s 2019 customer satisfaction ratings of NZ power companies based on customer satisfaction.

Find out which electricity provider best suits you

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