Pete on 20 June 2016

Hot water is something we can often take for granted. Turn on the tap and out it flows.

But when the time comes to replace or buy a new water heating system, a whole world of questions, technical specifications and lifestyle choices come into play.

To make choosing your next water heating system a bit simpler, at Express Plumbing we’d like to offer some of our expertise on the matter.

As far as we’re concerned, the bottom line is that you should pick the system best suited to your needs and budget. So to help you do that, let’s look at what’s out there on the market: 

Tank or on demand?

This is the most basic question when it comes to picking a hot water system. 

Do you want a large hot water unit that stores heated water in a tank, or are you after its smaller, slimmer cousin that foregoes the tank in favour of instantaneous heated water?

Tank based hot water systems are the classic model for heating water, and over the years they’ve become very advanced, efficient and adaptable. 

In general, they’re best suited to large homes or businesses that need plenty of hot water. They can take up a lot of space and often use more power to keep the water at the right temperature.

Tankless “on demand” systems are the new kid on the block and are rising in popularity. They don’t have a tank at all. Instead, water is passed through a heat exchanger, which quickly raises its temperature and sends it through pipes to your taps. 

These systems take up far less space than tank-based systems and can be mounted in more places. They are ideal for smaller homes or families, or for apartments. 

Generally, they tend to cost a bit more but use less power. This efficiency is their main selling point.

Whichever system you choose, modern hot water systems are designed to be very energy efficient, so either way costs can be kept to a minimum. 

Gas or electric? 

The next consideration when buying a new hot water system is to choose the power source – generally gas or electric (which includes solar).

There are typically no discernible differences in performance between a gas and electric hot water system. Both do a good job of heating hot water and delivering it – either through heating a tank of water or delivering supply on demand.

The big difference lies in the cost of the energy resource. Generally speaking, gas is a cheaper commodity than electricity in Australia because it’s abundantly available, so it’s less expensive to buy and often less expensive to produce. 

But in some places, gas can be more expensive than electricity, or vice versa, so it pays to investigate the long-term costs of either system. 

Tips for families and seniors

Costs aside, the biggest concern for anyone buying a new hot water system is to acquire the best unit for their needs.

For singles, life is easy. A tankless unit powered by gas or electricity – whichever is cheapest in their area – should do the trick. 

But for larger families, their hot water system needs to be able to handle a much larger capacity at a moment’s notice. So perhaps a large tank based unit is best.

For seniors, the most vital consideration is to make sure that a temperature limiter is installed to prevent accidental scalding in the kitchen or bathroom.