If you are in the market for a new hot water system and can’t decide between a gas or electric hot water system, we have compared the pros and cons of various types and makes to help you make an informed decision. If you're certain on not choosing solar then this article is for you. Hot water typically guzzles around one quarter of your home energy budget, so you really want to make the best decision for you and your family.
Typically, gas hot water systems are less expensive to run as opposed to electric hot water systems. However, gas hot water systems are costlier to install and have a more expensive initial cost. This being said, at the two-year mark the costs tend to balance out due to energy savings, so in the long run, a gas hot water system is generally more economical.
Hot water tanks or cylinders have been the most common choice of systems for decades. However, in recent years there has been a downward trend in these systems due to the rising cost of electricity and the high greenhouse emissions that are associated with generating the required electricity. On-peak systems heat all day and are the ore expensive option, where off-peak systems only heat water at night but need to be quite large so you don’t run out of water during the day.
Heat pumps work by extracting heat from the outside air, the same way a reverse cycle air-conditioner would warm a room. The hot water is then kept in a tank, comparable to other storage systems. Heat pumps are efficient and produce little greenhouse emissions but are more expensive to install. Heat pumps have lost popularity over the years as the maintenance costs associated with them tend to be much higher than other systems as they sometimes require three trades for a repair – a plumber, an electrician and an air-conditioning mechanic.
This system is quite similar looking to the electric tank hot water system, the key difference being that the electric heating elements are replaces with a gas burner. Gas systems are much more energy efficient, particularly the newer models, and emit far fewer greenhouse gases than their electric system counterparts. There are no time-of-day tariffs associated with gas, so the storage units do not have to be as big.
Although solar hot water systems are generally the most expensive to install, these systems can have the lowest running costs and greenhouse gas emissions. These systems are fitted with a booster unit (electric, natural gas or LPG) for those times where there is insufficient sunlight. It is vital that when you purchase and install a solar system, you do so with a sufficient number of panels and storage so that the booster is not overused which results in higher running costs.
These tankless units instantaneously heat water as you require it. As these units only heat the water when you turn on the tap, there is no storage tank, this also means you never run out of hot water. While the installation costs are much lower, the running costs are not as low as solar units. These systems are available in natural gas and LPG and emit fewer greenhouse emissions than electric systems.