Not many people pay attention or even bother to maintain that thing that provides you with hot water at every tap but your hot water system is more than likely burning a hole in your pocket this winter. Hot water for bathrooms, kitchens and of course laundries is a large part of your quarterly bill especially in winter however there are simple things that you can do to keep your bills under control.
Obviously, not everyone is in a position to go out and buy a new more efficient hot water system, but we can all do something to use less water and save on our energy bills.
Whether you're looking for no-cost habit changes, low-cost purchases or improvements, or large investments like new hot water system or appliances, there's something here for you:
- Whatever type or size of hot water system you choose, always go for one with a high energy star rating. A gas system should have at least five stars.
- Choose the right size system for your needs. Consult a hot water specialist like our team at Hot Water Nurse who are more than happy to give you honest advice.
- Set storage hot water systems at exactly 60°C. Any lower may allow harmful bacteria to flourish; higher will use energy unnecessarily. Continuous hot water systems should be set at no higher than 50°C. This will lower your running costs and extend your system's life.
- Install your system as close as possible to all points of hot water use, to minimise heat loss in pipes. If this is not possible, locate it close to where small amounts of hot water are drawn off regularly (usually the kitchen).
- Insulate exposed hot water pipes, especially the first two metres leading from the hot water system. Closed cell rubber insulation is recommended.
- You can add extra insulation to a storage tank to reduce heat loss, but don't restrict flues or air vents. Before installing extra insulation, check with the manufacturer to ensure the warranty won't be affected.
- For continuous systems, choose electronic ignition instead of a continuous pilot light to reduce gas consumption.
- Consider installing a hot water circulator to your continuous flow gas hot water heater.
- Use booster switches with timers for solar heating systems and turn off when supplementary power is not required. Install a timer on peak rate electric storage systems.
- If you have a solar hot water system, when possible do jobs requiring hot water early in the day to maximise performance of your system. This allows the water remaining in the tank to be reheated by the sun.
- Install WELS rated water efficient shower heads and taps. Those rated with a minimum of four stars are recommended.
- Use a shower timer. Showers and baths account for 25 per cent of all water used in an average home. Limiting your showers to four minutes or less can save around 24 litres of water each day.
- Use a plug in sinks and basins. A running tap expels about eight litres of water a minute.
- Set your washing machine to a cold-water cycle, whenever possible.
- Only run your dishwasher when you have a full load.
- Fix any dripping taps.
- Install single lever mixer taps that enable you to find the right water temperature quickly without wasting water. For a bathroom tap, look for a minimum WELS rating of six stars. When looking for a kitchen or laundry tap, a minimum WELS rating of four stars is considered water-efficient.
- Use flow regulators, such as tap outlet aerators and tap inserts, which can reduce water use by up to 50 per cent. They allow water to flow at set rates, while also providing softer water with less splashing. However, flow regulators may not be compatible with instantaneous hot water systems.
- High water pressure increases flow rates from showers and taps. A licensed plumber can fit a pressure reduction valve at your property boundary.
- Turn your hot water system off if you're going away for an extended period. Some systems have a holiday setting to make this easier.