Save big with a gas or solar water heater at home

When you turn on a hot water tap, 1 litre (4 cups) of cold water can be wasted before the water runs hot. To reduce the amount of water, energy and money you may be wasting, consider using a gas or solar water heater.

Save big with a gas or solar water heater at home

Gas-powered water heaters

Gas water heaters are generally more economical and eco-friendly than electric heaters – though you are still using a non-renewable resource.

  • Overall, a gas-boosted solar water heater is the cheapest to run and the most energy-efficient. Running costs are up to 80 percent lower than an equivalent electric system, which means it should pay for itself in 5–10 years.
  • Look for efficiency rating labels and give preference to systems with high ratings. Such systems may qualify you for rebates.
  • If you opt for an instantaneous system, avoid units with pilot lights as these waste valuable energy and emit as much as an extra 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of greenhouse gases a year.

Solar-powered water heaters

Solar systems are a viable option in many parts of the world and can meet up to 80 percent of household water-heating needs – a booster system powered by gas, electricity or solid fuel makes up the shortfall. The main component is a set of panels fixed to the roof.

  • Find out if you will qualify for a government loan, rebate or credit for installing a solar hot water system. This can make installation a lot more affordable.
  • Investigate whether you can convert your existing gas or electric heater to solar power. This is possible with most modern systems.
  • When installing a solar system, choose a sunny, south-facing spot that is no more than 20 degrees east or west of south – ideally one that receives direct sunlight between 8am and 4pm.
  • Place the system at an angle of between 15 and 50 degrees. If your roof doesn't allow for this, you can use a mounting frame, but this will increase the cost of the system.
  • Make sure your roof is strong enough to support the system – some are quite heavy.
  • Place the storage tank as close as possible to the solar collectors in order to minimize heat loss from connecting pipes.
  • Set the thermostat on the booster to a maximum of 60°C (140°F). The lower the setting, the lower the amount of energy needed to supplement the solar heating.
  • Make the most efficient use you can of your solar water heating. For example, do jobs that require large amounts of hot water early in the day, so that the water that refills the tank will be heated by the sun over the rest of the day rather than by a booster source at night.

While you may have to invest a bit more at the start to purchase and set up your system, a gas or solar water heater can help you enjoy significant savings in the long run.

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