Until recently, choosing the best hot water system was easy. You simply calculated the amount of hot water you needed and worked out the cheapest way to generate it. But times have changed. We’ve become more aware of the impact of fossil fuels on the environment, leading to greater awareness of the many options available. 

If your old system is costing you a fortune in hot water repairs, or you’re frowning at your electricity bill each month, it’s time to upgrade.

 

What Is The Best Hot Water System? – Energy, Capacity And Appliance Type

There are three parameters to consider if you want to do the right thing for your family, budget, and planet. 

The first parameter is energy. There are a few motivators when considering energy options, including emissions, costs and supply. Narrow down your choices by determining whether you can generate solar power or receive a natural gas supply. 

Secondly, consider household requirements. Any solution that doesn’t deliver a reliable source of hot water for your household can be crossed off the list regardless of how clever, sustainable, or cheap it is. 

Finally, you need to determine the size and type of device. There are several popular choices, including tanks and on-demand water heaters. If you’re shrugging your shoulders and assuming you need a tank, make sure you’re aware of recent improvements in heat pumps and instant water heating appliances. 

Let’s take all those parameters into account to create a top ten list of the best hot water systems for a household of four people.

#1. Solar Powered – Natural Gas Boosted 

Nobody is pretending solar power has a low entry price, but this combo can ease your conscience and save huge sums of money on annual energy bills. In the emissions category, it wins by a landslide, generating only 1.9 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over a decade. You’ll also be confronted with a whopping annual energy bill of – wait for it – $65! When you compare that to the $920 you’d pay for a system running on peak electricity, installing solar panels looks a lot more affordable. Add the rebates and incentives available to Victorians on the Solar Homes program, and our number one choice just got a lot hotter!

#2. Solar Powered – LPG Boosted Tank

LPG cops a bad rap, but the stats tell the true story. It may not be the sustainable energy source the world needs in the long run, but it may be a viable band-aid to apply until we’ve all embraced greener forms of energy. Used to boost a solar-powered tank, it keeps prices and emissions low. It narrowly misses out on taking the honours for low emissions, and although its annual energy costs are twice as high as our first choice, it still manages to outperform every other alternative. 

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#3. Heat Pump – Off-Peak

Heat pumps draw ambient heat from the air and force cooler air out, creating a water heating process that is up to three times more energy-efficient than standard tanks. The jump from solar to heat pump more than doubles greenhouse gas emissions (5.3 tonnes per decade), but that’s still very low compared to standard electricity. The big benefit is for your yearly budget, keeping the energy costs down to $160 a year, making it the third-best combination on our list.

#4. Solar Powered – Electric Boosted

With the right combination of tank and primary energy supply, electricity still plays an important role. That’s a relief for people without access to natural gas lines or preferring to avoid LPG. With an annual energy cost of $210, it’s not far off the mark set by our top three choices. Over a decade, it’s relatively kind to the environment, generating 7.1 tonnes of greenhouse gases. That figure isn’t even enough to push its emissions into the mid-range.

#5. Natural Gas – Instant

If it’s been a while since you tried an instant water heater, your opinion may be as outdated as those old, poorly performing models. Gas and instant go hand in hand, and the latest instant hot water heaters generate piping hot water on demand. There’s an additional cost because you usually need an appliance in each room that requires hot water. But with an annual energy bill of $255, your long-term savings should cover the entry fee.

#6. Natural Gas – Storage

A big tank powered by natural gas is a very popular choice. Natural gas is a reliable compromise that is still below the mid-range for emissions generated by water heaters and saving plenty of money with its $280 annual energy bill. It won’t top any of our three categories, but it’s a solid performer. A qualified technician can install a gas heater quickly and affordably, making it an easy option for many Melbourne households.

#7. LPG – Instant

We’re adding this option for people determined to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions but who don’t have access to solar power or natural gas. While the price tag for annual energy doubles (not to mention the cost of the appliances), emissions are only slightly higher than natural gas. This is a case of putting your money where your mouth is, but if you’re limited on options but determined to make a difference, LPG will only produce 9.5 tonnes of greenhouse gases in ten years.

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#8. LPG – Storage

With an annual energy bill of $485 and 7.9 tonnes of greenhouse gases generated over ten years, LPG stacks up surprisingly well compared to the many other options. As we’ve mentioned before, it may not be the first choice for the most idealistic climate change campaigner, but what the world needs right now is results. With half the emissions of a tank heated by electricity, LPG is a viable interim solution that can make a difference right now.

#9. Electric – Instant

If you’re determined to use electricity, changing to an instant heater can reduce your ten-year emissions by five tonnes. If enough people followed suit, it could make a big difference. But most people striving to make a positive impact would consider five tonnes to be trivial. It’s better than choosing the most expensive and destructive option (see below), but even if you limit your requirements to cost efficiency, it’s hard to justify the $805 annual energy bill.

#10. Electric – Storage

There’s only one reason an old-fashioned electric-powered tank can make this list. That’s because it’s literally the last combination of energy and appliance we haven’t covered. Now that we’re at the tail end of options let’s make some shocking comparisons. Stored hot water generated by electricity creates up to 23.6 tonnes of greenhouse gases over ten years compared to solar-powered and gas-boosted systems that generate 1.9 tonnes. The same colossal gap applies to annual bills, which are $920 and $65, respectively. Add up those savings based on the ten-year life of a water heater, and you can put more than $8,000 toward solar panel installation.

Migrating To Greener Energy Comes At A Cost

There’s no doubt it’s a tough time to invest in anything new. We’re still struggling to recover from a worldwide pandemic. But despite economic hardship, it’s the citizens of the world who are leading the way to a sustainable future. We’re doing it with our choice of products. But we can make the most significant change by choosing more innovative ways to power our homes. 

We hope our list of the best hot water system helps you carefully consider your options, especially when it comes to long-term investments versus short-term goals. You don’t have to install expensive equipment to make a difference. Even a compromise can quickly halve your emissions. But if you’re making a tough choice between solar, gas or electricity, we encourage you to shoot for long-term savings and low emissions. Investing in infrastructure is rarely a poor decision, even when applied to the energy supply of a suburban home. 

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