Hot water

The power used by your electric storage hot water system could account for around 20 to 25 per cent of your household's annual power use. You can reduce the amount of energy you use for heating water by making some simple changes around your home.  

  • Choose a cold water rather than warm or hot water wash cycle and use an environmentally-friendly detergent suitable for cold water washing.
  • Taking shorter showers is an easy way to reduce power use and has the added bonus of saving water. Use a shower timer to help you.
  • Change over to a water efficient (3-star) showerhead. Conventional showers can use more than 20 litres per minute. A water efficient shower head can cut this to as little as 7 litres per minute.
  • If you have a storage hot water system, turn it off when you go on holidays. There is no need to keep water hot when you are not there to use it.

Choosing a new hot water system

Switch from a standard electric storage heater to solar, heat pump or gas hot water system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and see savings on your power bills.  Here are a few points to consider:

Solar

  • Uses the sun to heat the water and then electricity or gas to boost the heat if required e.g. on cloudy days.  Gas is cheaper than electricity for boosting, and is also a greener choice as it emits less carbon dioxide than electricity per useful energy unit.
  • Significantly reduces your power bills and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Costs more to buy than electric or gas water heaters – but could pay for itself in as little as eight years through lower power bills and it is the most environmentally friendly option.
  • The system needs to face north and avoid shade so it can operate at peak performance. Shade from trees and buildings can reduce the efficiency of a solar hot water system.

Natural gas

  • Comes in storage and continuous flow systems and produces far less greenhouse gas emissions than comparable electric systems.
  • Quicker to heat and uses a smaller tank than a comparable electric storage system.
  • Look for the gas energy rating label with the highest number of stars – choose one with a five or six star energy rating.

High efficiency heat pump

  • Uses about one quarter to one third of the energy of a standard electric storage system.
  • Costs more to buy and install than an electric storage hot water system but over time will pay for itself through lower power bills.
  • Make sure you choose a high performance heat pump suitable for Canberra's cold winters.

After choosing the type of system

  • Install the system close to where you need to use the hot water so the water doesn't lose too much heat when travelling from the system.
  • Insulate the first few metres of piping with lagging to reduce heat loss around your hot water system.
  • When installing a solar hot water system, check the system has frost protection and that this is covered in the warranty.