- Natural gas – can be used in storage water heaters and continuous flow heaters. Natural gas systems are rated according to their energy efficiency and come in both internal and external versions. Gas storage heaters have a smaller capacity than off-peak electric as they are able to heat the water up at any time of the day or night as opposed to within a certain time period. For more information see gas hot water systems.
- Off peak electriic – has similar running costs to a natural gas system but is only available where the hot water system has a storage capacity 170 liters plus. The hot water is generally heated overnight for use throughout the day. It cannot be used by continuous flow systems and is available for both internal and external use sytems.
- Solar energy – can provide up to seventy percent of your hot water free of charge, making it a very environmentally friendly option. They are the cheapest systems to operate but do have a high initial purchase price. All solar hot water systems come with a “booster” source of power (such as gas or electric) to provide hot water during times when there is little sun. Mains pressure and constant pressure is available. For more information please see solar hot water systems.
- Peak electricity – is used for electric continuous flow units and storage water heaters that are smaller than 170 liters in capacity. They can be expensive to run but are the most popular in areas where space is limited such as in units and apartments. For more information please see electric hot water systems.
- LPG – is used in areas where natural gas is not available. It is suitable for both continuous flow and storage hot water.
- Solid fuels – this includes wood, coal, briquettes etc, so the cost of the fuels can vary widely. Solid fuels can be used on their own with off peak electricity or solar in constant pressure systems. They cannot be used with mains pressure systems unless a heat exchanger is used and cannot be used in continuous flow systems.
- Heat pumps – is high efficiency and uses around sixty percent less electricity than other electric hot water systems. They work by extracting heat from the atmosphere using a refrigerant gas and a compressor and using that heat water stored in a tank at ground level.
Hiring a Hot Water Systems Specialist
Hot water system suppliers can assist with:
- Advising on a suitable hot water system
- Service and repairs
- Supply of the hot water unit
- Minor plumbing
Make Sure that they are able to help you to choose the correct system for the number of people in your household. They should also allow for possible changes in the use of the hot water system in the future brought about by such things as an expanding family, the introduction of new appliances such as dishwashers and so forth. An expert plumber can install or replace al types of hot water systems, including electric, gas and or solar.
Ensure that the system comes with a warranty, and that the supplier is willing to provide installation in a reasonable time. It is also useful if your supplier can provide emergency repairs or be able to direct you to someone that does.