Saving Money and Energy

In every Australian household, a hot water system is indispensable. It ensures comfort and convenience, but it also represents a significant portion of energy consumption, impacting both the environment and your budget. This comprehensive guide aims to look at various types of hot water systems, their advantages, energy efficiency, and the importance of regular maintenance to avoid costly issues down the line.

“Water heating is the second largest segment of household energy use, ranging from 15% to 27%, depending on location.” (source:

What Is a Hot Water System and Why Does It Matter?

A hot water system is an essential component of any home, providing heated water for various purposes such as bathing, cleaning, and cooking. Choosing the right system is crucial to ensure adequate supply and energy efficiency tailored to your household’s needs.

What Size Hot Water System Do I Need?

This is one of the first questions you’ll need an answer to. If you live in a small place with only one or two occupants, you can probably make do with a hot water system with a capacity of around 90 litres. For larger households, you may want to consider a hot water system that has a capacity of 3 times that amount and choose a 270-litre tank hot water system.
If your hot water system doesn’t have enough capacity to supply your household sufficiently, you’ll constantly be running out of hot water and likely jacking up your power bills in the process. Size does matter when it comes to hot water systems, so you’ll want to make the right choice before purchasing one and having it installed.
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Gas Hot Water System Sunshine Coast

Understanding Solar Hot Water Systems

Solar hot water systems harness the sun’s energy to heat water, offering significant benefits in terms of cost savings and environmental sustainability. These systems typically consist of solar panels mounted on the roof, which absorb sunlight to heat water stored in a tank.

“Approximately 120,000 SWH systems were installed across Australia during 2022, taking the number of total installations to almost 1.5 million units.” (source:


ultimate guide hot water systems

How Does a Solar Hot Water System Work?

Solar hot water systems utilise solar collectors to absorb sunlight and this heats a heat-transfer fluid, which then heats the water in a storage tank. In regions with colder climates, additional mechanisms may be incorporated to prevent freezing and ensure a continuous hot water supply.

Advantages of Solar Hot Water Systems

Solar hot water systems offer dual advantages of reducing energy bills and minimising environmental impact. By harnessing renewable energy from the sun, these systems significantly lower electricity consumption and carbon emissions.

Adding Value to Your Home with Solar Hot Water

Installing a solar hot water system not only saves money on utility bills but also enhances the value of your property. The eco-friendly and cost-effective nature of solar energy serves as a compelling selling point for prospective buyers.

“On average, if you install a solar water heater, your water heating bills should drop 50%–80%.” (Source:

Advantages Of Installing Solar Hot Water

Exploring Different Types of Hot Water Systems

Beyond solar hot water, various options exist, including electric, gas, heat pump, and geothermal systems. Each type has its unique advantages and considerations regarding energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

There are several types of hot water systems available to cater to different preferences, energy sources, and budget considerations. Some common types include:

  • Electric Storage Hot Water Systems: These systems store heated water in an insulated tank until it’s needed. They are relatively inexpensive to purchase and install but can have higher ongoing energy costs compared to other options.
  • Gas Storage Hot Water Systems: Similar to electric storage systems, gas storage hot water systems store heated water in a tank. They are powered by natural gas or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas). Gas systems generally have lower operating costs compared to electric ones.
  • Instantaneous (Continuous Flow) Gas Hot Water Systems: Instead of storing hot water in a tank, instantaneous gas systems heat water on demand as it flows through the unit. They are generally more energy-efficient than storage systems because they only heat water when needed.
  • Solar Hot Water Systems: These systems use solar collectors to absorb energy from the sun and heat water for domestic use. They can be supplemented with gas or electric boosters for cloudy days or times of high demand.
  • Heat Pump Hot Water Systems: Heat pump systems extract heat from the surrounding air and use it to heat water. They are highly energy-efficient and can significantly reduce energy bills, especially in moderate climates.
  • Electric Instantaneous (Continuous Flow) Hot Water Systems: Similar to gas instantaneous systems, electric instantaneous systems heat water on demand without the need for a storage tank. However, they may have higher operating costs compared to gas systems.
  • Heat Recovery Systems: These systems capture waste heat from other sources, such as air conditioning units or industrial processes, and use it to preheat water. They are more common in commercial or industrial settings but are increasingly being used in residential applications.

The choice of hot water system depends on factors such as energy availability, climate, household size, budget, and environmental considerations. It’s essential to consider both upfront costs and long-term operating expenses when selecting the most suitable option. Additionally, rebates and incentives may be available for certain types of energy-efficient hot water systems in Australia.

installing a hot water system


Gas vs. Electric vs. Solar Hot Water Systems

Comparing gas, electric, and solar hot water systems reveals distinct differences in energy efficiency, operating costs, and environmental impact. While gas and solar systems offer significant savings and environmental benefits, electric systems remain a viable option with certain energy-saving strategies.

Maximising Energy Efficiency with Gas Hot Water Systems

Gas hot water systems stand out for their energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness, particularly in regions where natural gas is readily available. Understanding how these systems work and their energy ratings can help homeowners make informed choices.

What to Consider When Replacing a Hot Water System?

When replacing a hot water system, it’s essential to consider factors such as system size, compatibility with existing infrastructure, and local regulations. Avoiding common mistakes and consulting with a professional plumber ensures a smooth transition and optimal performance.

What are the Signs Your Hot Water System Needs Attention?

Recognising signs of hot water system problems, such as insufficient heating, leaks, or unusual noises, is crucial for timely maintenance or repairs. Neglecting these issues can lead to more significant problems and costly repairs down the line.

gas heater installation

Consequences of Neglecting Hot Water System Maintenance

Neglecting regular maintenance on your hot water system can result in the following:

  1. Decreased Efficiency: Over time, sediment and minerals from water can build up in the tank and on the heating elements of water heaters, especially in areas with hard water. This buildup can insulate the water from the heat source, making the system work harder to heat the water, leading to increased energy consumption and higher utility bills.
  2. Corrosion and Leaks: Water heaters, particularly those that are tank-based, can suffer from corrosion over time. Anodes rods are designed to corrode in place of the tank itself, but if they are not checked and replaced as needed, the tank can start to corrode, potentially leading to leaks. Regular servicing includes checking these rods and replacing them if necessary to extend the life of the tank.
  3. Heating Element Failure: For electric water heaters, the heating elements can burn out over time, especially if they are forced to work harder due to scale buildup. Regular maintenance can catch these issues early, ensuring that your water remains hot and your system operates efficiently.
  4. Thermostat Problems: The thermostat controls the temperature of the water. If it’s not working correctly, it can lead to water that’s too hot or not hot enough. Regular checks ensure it is functioning correctly and set at an optimal temperature.
  5. Safety Issues: A neglected hot water system can pose safety risks. For example, the pressure relief valve, which releases pressure if it gets too high, can become clogged or malfunction. If it’s not working properly, the tank could potentially explode due to overpressure. Regular services check this valve and ensures it’s operational.
  6. Shortened Lifespan: Without regular maintenance, the overall lifespan of your hot water system can be significantly reduced. Issues like sediment buildup, corrosion, and part failures can all lead to a system that needs to be replaced sooner than one that is well-maintained.
  7. Unexpected Repairs and Downtime: Perhaps one of the most immediate concerns for homeowners is the inconvenience and cost of unexpected repairs. Regular servicing can identify and fix small problems before they become big ones, avoiding the inconvenience of having no hot water and the expense of emergency repairs or replacement.

Proactive servicing by a licensed plumber is essential to avoid these issues and extend the system’s lifespan.

fixing hot water system

Tips for Maximising Energy Savings

Implementing energy-saving practices, such as shorter showers, using low-flow fixtures, and insulating hot water pipes, can significantly reduce energy consumption and lower utility bills, particularly for electric hot water systems.

Longevity of Hot Water Systems

Hot water systems can last between 5 to 15 years with proper maintenance. Regular servicing and monitoring of water quality contribute to extending the system’s lifespan and ensuring optimal performance.

Investing in a suitable hot water system tailored to your household’s needs is paramount for energy efficiency, cost savings, and environmental responsibility. Whether opting for solar, gas, or electric, prioritising regular maintenance and energy-saving practices ensures long-term reliability and performance, benefiting both your wallet and the planet.

In conclusion, choosing the right hot water system for your home is crucial for energy efficiency, cost savings, and environmental sustainability. Whether you opt for solar, gas, or electric, regular maintenance is essential to prevent costly issues and ensure optimal performance. By prioritizing energy-saving practices and investing in renewable energy solutions like solar hot water, homeowners can enjoy long-term benefits while contributing to a greener future.

How To Save Power On Your Hot Water System

More reading about hot water systems:

How To Save Power On Your Hot Water System

Convert from Electric to Gas Hot Water System 

Original article by Refined Plumbing Sunshine Coast