What’s the Best Hot Water System?

hot water system

Hot Water is One of Life's Essentials

Luxurious, hot showers get us going in the morning, and help us relax at the end of a long day.

Sadly, there will be a time when your hot water system gives up the ghost and shatters your daily routine. That’s when you’re well and truly left out in the cold. But take heart. While you are contemplating life without your trusty old water heater, you have to quickly look to the future.

This is an opportunity, a chance to upgrade your hot water to something more efficient and reliable. You can upgrade to something that better suits your circumstances, reduces energy use and minimises your carbon footprint.

Before you go and purchase a new hot water system there are a few things to consider. Sure, it’s not a lifelong decision, but the next 10+ years will depend on what you buy. Therefore, the first thing you have to do is research. And thanks to Upside Down, we can help from start to finish so you know what hot water systems are out there, and the pros and cons of each type.

Electric Storage Hot Water

As the old Rheem jingle stated, "it comes on steady, hot and strong".

Electric storage tank hot water systems have always been dependable and durable. Often you can plonk one in the backyard, hook it up, and enjoy steady hot water for years to come. It provides hot water with reliable pressure, and when you need it.

Installation can also be inside or outside. Meanwhile, with a large variety of storage tank sizes, household needs can be catered for no matter the number of people inside.

Unfortunately, if there is one main negative, it’s that storage tanks aren’t always up to modern standards. The cost of heating water continuously, even when you’re not using it, adds quite a lot to standard energy bills. The use of a storage tank can often equate to up to one-third of a household’s electricity bill across a year.

If you were to look at the key pros and cons of an electric storage water heater, they are:

PROS

  • lower upfront costs compared to other units.
  • versatile installation (tank size and location).
  • consistent water supply on demand.
  • last for 10+ years on average.

CONS

  • higher running costs and energy usage.
  • creates more carbon emissions than other water heaters.
  • can require more long term maintenance.
  • water can become contaminated if not maintained properly.

Gas Continuous Flow/Gas Instantaneous

When you want affordable hot water on demand, you want gas.

Where the storage tank may fall short in all-day heating and added expenses, gas continuous flow systems only heat water when you need it. So if you turn on the tap, there’s hot water! But when the tap’s off, nothing is being unnecessarily warmed.

Gas is reliable and relatively cheap to run, depending on local gas prices. The actual wall mounted unit also takes up little space, providing a non-invasive option if you can’t fit in a regular storage tank.

Here’s why you may or may not want to use a gas instantaneous system.

PROS

  • gas running costs are far lower than a storage tank.
  • water is only heated as you need it = hot water on demand.
  • can be installed in narrow, limited locations; wall mounted.
  • fewer carbon emissions produced than electric water heaters.

CONS

  • must be paired with a flue for indoor installation.
  • water can sometimes take time to heat up.
  • water pressure can be weaker or lower than desired
  • although there are electric models, a gas mains supply is required.

Gas Storage Hot Water

For affordable storage options, gas provides an efficient middle ground.

Gas running costs are typically cheaper than electricity, so this system is an improvement on electric storage. However, it still suffers from the same problems that all storage systems have; water is heated 24/7 and heat energy is wasted throughout the day.

Regardless, with lower running costs, large holding capacities and reliability, a gas storage tank hot water system does deserve some consideration.

Solar Hot Water Systems

Enjoy the best there is with environmentally friendly solar power.

Sunshine is free. It’s a big upside when it comes to powering your water heater, too. Energy consumption can be reduced by up to 90 per cent, while there are government rebates on offer to assist with additional costs.

Because, sadly, one of the major downsides of solar is the upfront cost and. The other is the occasional unreliability of solar throughout the winter months. Still, with the option of gas or electric boosters, you can rest assured you will have hot water all year round with solar.

PROS

  • environmentally friendly with few carbon emissions produced.
  • low running costs, even compared to gas.
  • reduces energy consumption by up to 90 per cent (compared to electricity).
  • tanks can be roof-mounted or installed on the ground.

CONS

  • production can be dependent on weather conditions.
  • large upfront costs.
  • installation is more time consuming and delicate.
  • a gas or electric booster is likely a definite addition.

Heat Pump Hot Water

Although it's not as well known, the heat pump may be your best choice.

Heat pumps are the latest thing in hot water. The way they heat the water is a little complicated – it involves refrigerants and condensers – but the point is that it uses much less power than conventional hot water systems.

It’s even cheaper to run than a gas continuous with the added advantage that a gas connection is not needed. They are definitely an option worth exploring. However, they do produce quite a lot of noise, much like an air conditioning unit, so you should be cautious about where a heat pump is installed.

PROS

  • an energy efficient electric option.
  • running costs are lower than storage tanks.
  • provides a reliable amount of hot water.
  • costs may be covered by government rebates.

CONS

  • better suited to warmer climates.
  • requires a well-ventilated area to absorb surrounding air.
  • general maintenance can be more specialised.
  • may require an additional booster in certain conditions.

The Final Decision

You know what's out there, so it's time to decide, right? Not just yet.

Often it’s best to speak to a professional plumber about what hot water system will suit your home best. A like-for-like replacement isn’t always the perfect option, and there are countless choices on the market.

Be sure to thoroughly research brands and models online so you can understand the full range of what there is. You can familiarise yourself with specific brands, and then see what individual features match your desires.

And if you’re ever in doubt, call Upside Down! We’re here to help with every step of the hot water journey.

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