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Energy Efficiency in Hot Water Systems: Gas vs Electric

Gas vs Electric hot water systems

When choosing the best hot water system for your home, understanding the energy efficiency of any potential choice of model is an essential consideration. The energy efficiency rating of your hot water system is key for two reasons. First, it indicates the environmental impact your system will have through greenhouse gas emissions. Second, it provides an idea of the system’s running costs and how it will affect your household costs.

After a quick look at hot water systems, you’ll soon realise your main options will be either powered by electricity or gas. The big question you need to answer is what is the best option for your household and needs. This article will examine both options, weigh their pros and cons, and outline the key factors you must consider when deciding.

Overview of Hot Water Systems

Overview of Hot Water Systems

Hot water is essential to modern life, and households will either have electric or gas systems. An electric hot water system can be powered by electricity from the grid or alternative sources, such as solar power. They’re available in many systems, including traditional storage tanks, heat pumps, tankless, and continuous flow.

Gas hot water systems are, as the name suggests, powered by gas. The most common gas source in Australia is LPG or bottled gas. You’ve undoubtedly seen these gas bottles outside someone’s house, if not your own. Natural gas is available in some areas, especially in the southern states. Unlike bottled gas, this doesn’t require the homeowner to organise refills; however, it is not as readily available, particularly in rural areas. There are two types of gas water heaters: traditional storage tank models and continuous flow models, which are tankless. The latter is more energy efficient but has a higher purchase price.

Energy and Cost Comparison

Energy Consumption and Cost Comparison

When asking which energy source is more affordable or energy efficient, the answer isn’t as simple as choosing one or the other. A lot will come down to the type of water heater you choose and the model. You also need to consider both the short- and long-term costs. Traditional electric hot water systems have some of the lowest initial prices on the market. However, their running costs are higher, and their durability varies greatly. The best energy consumption in the long run comes from systems that use a heat pump or a renewable energy power source, as these systems will cut your utility bills dramatically. However, they’re also the most expensive upfront, which may be an issue for those on a tight budget. For both gas and electric systems, tankless models use less energy than those with a storage tank because stored water needs to be kept at a certain temperature, whereas tankless systems heat on demand.

Like electric models, gas systems vary in energy efficiency levels, with tankless models usually having a lower energy consumption. An advantage of gas is that costs don’t vary depending on the time of use the way they do with using electricity (peak hour, off-peak, etc.), which allows for more flexibility about when you can use your hot water without worrying about higher prices. If your home is already connected to gas, then the price of a gas water unit could be quite reasonable. If it isn’t, you’ll need to add the price of installing a gas connection on top of everything else, which could quickly become pricey.

Environmental Impact

On the whole, an electric hot water heater is going to be more environmentally friendly than its gas water heater counterpart. This is especially true if you’re powering your system through a sustainable source, such as solar power, or are using a heat pump. A conventional electric hot water system with a storage tank is not an eco-friendly purchase.

Efficiency standards with gas water heaters are usually lower than with electric systems. If you are going to use gas but want to reduce your emissions, your best bet is to purchase a continuous-flow system. The most concerning thing about LPG gas is that it is not a renewable resource, making it less eco-friendly. Natural gas doesn’t leave the same carbon footprint; however, it isn’t an option for many people. In summary, the most energy-efficient electric water heaters (those that use renewable energy) are more eco-friendly than the most energy-efficient gas heaters. Still, your choice of model plays a major role in overall energy efficiency.

Houses in different climates

Efficiency in Different Climate Zones

Australia is a large country and features numerous climate zones and weather conditions. Where your property is located can impact the efficiency of your hot water system. For starters, colder areas will simply use more hot water than warmer climates, especially for showers and baths. Therefore, an energy-efficient system could save you even more money in the long run if you’re in an area with particularly chilly winters.

Though heat pumps are one of the most efficient options on the market, they have been known to be less effective in colder climates. This is a concern, especially on those freezing nights when you need hot water. Gas can work even during a black-out, so if you live in a cyclone- or flood-prone area, this is worth considering. We recommend talking to a local hot water or plumbing professional who knows the climate and can provide an expert opinion on the best hot water system for you.

Maintenance and Lifespan

Regular services and good maintenance are key to ensuring your hot water system runs at its best and has a long lifespan. It allows a professional to inspect your system and catch any potential issues early. While all hot water systems have upkeep requirements, the specifics will vary depending on the model you purchase.

Systems with a storage tank tend to have a noticeably shorter lifespan than tankless systems. This can be attributed to fewer parts and the vulnerability of tanks to rust. On the other side of the coin, tankless systems, such as continuous flow models or those with heat pumps, are more expensive to repair and service, though they’re less likely to need repairing.

Rheem Ambiheat HDc270 Heat Pump

Energy-Efficient Hot Water, Anywhere, Anytime

The choice of a gas or electric hot water system comes down to a few key things, including a budget, the space you have for installation, and your local climate. It’s crucial to consider the initial costs (unit price, installation costs) and the long-term costs (energy costs, maintenance, lifespan).

Whatever type of hot water system you’re after, the friendly, expert team at Same Day Hot Water Service are here to help. From offering advice to installing your new unit, we’re the one name to remember for all your water heating needs. Get in touch today to discuss your new water heater system.

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