Frequently asked questions
I would like to get a gas hot water system, what type should I get?
There are two different types of gas water systems - storage water heaters and continuous flow (instantaneous) water heaters. The type and size of system you need depends on how many people live in the house and their water usage (dishwashers, washing machines, spas etc).
Continuous flow systems heat water as it is required. These systems are more suitable for smaller households with lower hot water usage, as they heat only what they need, and don't waste energy heating up and storing water that isn’t used.
Storage systems heat water and store it in the tank for use throughout the day. These are suitable for households with higher hot water usage.
Make sure you purchase a system with a high energy star rating. The more stars, the more energy efficient the product is. This will ensure you get a model that is energy efficient, which will keep your gas bill as low as possible.
What is a star rating?
All gas water heaters and solar water heaters with gas boosters display energy labels with star ratings for energy efficiency. The more stars, the more energy efficient the water heater and the lower its greenhouse gas emissions. This also means reduced operating costs.
Is solar hot water cost-effective?
Solar hot water heaters are more expensive to purchase and install than many other hot water systems, however they can be the cheapest to run (especially if the system is gas-boosted).
The system can pay for itself in approximately 5-7 years depending on your household's hot water consumption.
Your purchase and installation of a solar water heater (or air-sourced heat pump) may entitle you to Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs). STCs are a measure of renewable energy which can be traded for cash or a discount on the purchase price of a hot water system. STCs are usually deducted from the purchase price of the system by suppliers.
What are Small-scale Renewable Certificates (STCs)?
Small-scale Renewable Certificates (STCs) are a form of 'currency' created by the Commonwealth Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2001. STCs are issued for solar and heat pump hot water systems, because they heat water using a renewable energy source instead of electricity. The amount of STCs produced is based on the amount of renewable electricity the system produces or displaces. As of 1 January 2011, STCs have replaced Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for all eligible solar water heaters.
For further information:
What is the best position on the roof for a solar hot water system?
Solar water heating panels should be located on a north facing section of the roof, at an angle of around 35°.
Angles as low as 15° may be acceptable, but winter performance of the system will be reduced. Adding another collector panel can compensate for this.
The panels should be located where they will not be shaded anytime of the year. The storage cylinder should ideally be located close to the main hot water outlets (i.e. in the kitchen and bathroom).
Will electric storage hot water systems soon be banned?
No. On 28 November 2012, the NSW Government announced that it will not implement the mandatory phase out of electric hot water systems in existing homes.
Standards for hot water installations in new detached, terrace or town houses will continue under the NSW BASIX - Building Sustainability Index system.
What happens to the old electric storage system that is replaced?
There is currently a high value of scrap steel, which supports a high rate of recycling of hot water systems. In most cases, your replaced electric hot water system will be taken away by the installer and all metals, elements and valves will be recycled. Ask your installer how they dispose of old systems. Generally, the only part of an old hot water system that is not recycled is the insulation, which goes to landfill.
Are there noise limits for heat pump water heaters and how can I prevent noise from my system impacting on my neighbours?
Clause 52 of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Noise Control) Regulation 2008 prevents the operation of heat pump hot water systems on residential premises during certain hours of the night and early morning if they are impacting upon neighbours. Heat pumps may not be used in ways that produce noise to a habitable room of a neighbouring residence during the following hours:
They must not cause offensive noise at any other time. These requirements aim to stop noisy heat pumps from being installed in poor locations, that is, too close to a neighbour's bedroom or living area, where the noise may disturb people in their homes.
Advice may be needed to site and install heat pump water heaters correctly and existing systems may need to be acoustically treated if noise is affecting neighbours. Guidance on the installation of heat pump water heaters is included in Appendix 3 (10799Part5nglg.pdf, 1.55MB) of Part 5 of the Noise Guide for Local Government.
Where can I get a hot water system?
To find a supplier who can help you, look in the Yellow Pages under:
In order to work out the best option for your needs, it is recommended that you obtain quotes from several suppliers.
Where can I find more information on the types of hot water systems and how they work?
The NABERS Home website has fact sheets on hot water systems. Otherwise a hot water system supplier or installer should be able to help you.
What is a hot water circulator?
Continuous flow gas hot water systems only start to heat water when you turn on the hot water tap. That's why you get cold water for a while before the water is hot enough to use. Up to 17,000 litres of water are wasted in this way in the average home each year.
A hot water circulator is a unit installed with your continuous gas hot water system to recover wasted water and send it back into the system to be reheated or used later. A hot water circulator provides instant hot water to your shower, sink, bathtub and washing appliances to save nearly 2,000 buckets of water each year.
By installing a hot water circulator you will not only save water and cut your water bills, you will also have instant hot water for your shower, washing water and other hot water appliances around the house.
What are the council requirements for installing hot water circulators?
Council requirements vary across the state. You will need to contact your local council before installing your hot water circulator to ensure it meets requirements. Councils may need to inspect your hot water circulator.
Where can I get a hot water circulator?
To find a supplier who can help you, look in the Yellow Pages under:
In order to work out the best option for your needs, talk to your plumber because some hot water circulators are only compatible with certain continuous gas hot water systems. It is also recommended that you obtain quotes from several suppliers.
Where can I find information on the types of hot water circulators and how they work?
A summary of the various types of hot water circulators is provided in the ‘Consideration of hot water circulators for inclusion in the WELS Scheme’ report prepared by Coomes Consulting Group Pty Ltd for the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts; 27 June 2008.
Page last updated: 08 February 2013