It’s the big debate that never seems to end: Do you go electric, gas or solar with your hot water system?
People love to argue their point, whichever way they swing. As a plumber, it’s been a constant talking point that seems to stem from one main concern: Which is more cost effective?
Now to give all you non-plumbers out there a quick overview, the life expectancy of your hot water system (HWS) is – generally speaking – about 10 years. Some can last a touch longer or shorter.
It’s all dependent on how well they’re maintained and the position they’re in. The big question is: Which design is ‘better’ to choose from?
Solar panels facing north are the most economically viable way to heat your home in Australia. Picture: Getty
Check your current system
The HWS you currently have can play a big role in the final cost of your new one – and can make or break your decision.
Most homes 15 years or older generally have an electric HWS. Replacing them can be the cheapest option in the short term as it requires a simple replacement of the system and no alteration of pipe work needed.
This might be your only sensible option as not all homes have readily available gas connections or the space for solar panels. For all you peeps out there that live in units and small complexes, unfortunately this is you. Unless you want to sell your kidney, this is the most viable option.
Gas is a great option for your hot water system. Picture: Getty
Got gas already?
Now, if you have the option of gas – as most city slickers do – then this is a great option (and my preference over electric).
Generally speaking, you’re only charged for the amount of gas you use. The electric option, on the other hand, is constantly using electricity to heat your HWS – even when you’re not home. Gas is instant, compact and the quickest way to heat up a large amount of water in a small amount of time.
One of the downsides to choosing gas or electric is that you still get charged by a company and they set the rates. They also have a larger environmental footprint and that’s why the option of solar is so appealing.
This property in Myocum, NSW, has 4.5KW solar panels. Picture: realestate.com.au/buy
Solar all the way
First of all, solar HWS are fantastic. We live in one of the sunniest countries in the world, so why don’t we all have solar HWS?
Yes, you’ll initially pay more for the system as well as the install, but it leaves you with a sense of duty and ownership that you’re doing the ‘right’ thing and caring for mother nature. All arguments aside, you are.
The system is the most sustainable and – excluding the extra manufactured parts – leaves no carbon footprint on our environment. More often than not it’ll take you six to eight years to make your money back for the extra outlay on the parts and install, but then it’s cash money in your pocket.