When it comes to your hot water heating service there are plenty of great options to choose from, with gas, electric and solar being the big ones. One option that is not widely explored in Australian homes is heat pump hot water systems. These systems are worth putting on the list of choices as they are incredibly energy efficient and significantly reduce hot water costs to households located in warm weather environments.
What is a heat pump hot water system?
Rather than using gas or electricity to heat up water, heat pumps work using natural heat. By extracting the warmth in the air surrounding the unit and amplifying it within, it is able to effectively heat the water stored there. If enough hot air is available around the unit it can continue to heat water over and over again, making it suitable for bigger households.
While some electricity is used to operate the internal compressor, it’s minimal compared to regular hot water heater demands and most units save as much as 60-70% compared to standard hot water use.
How heat pump systems work
A heat pump works on the same principle as a refrigerator, only it takes hot air from outside and pumps it through to create heat, rather than taking hot air inside and pumping it out to achieve cold.
The system is based around a liquid chemical in the heat pump’s pipes that can evaporate to gas at very low temperatures. Natural warm air is used to heat the liquid into a gas. Once the liquid has evaporated to gas it is compressed - the compression component of the system runs on electricity, as well as the fan used to distribute the spent (cool) air - everything else is naturally heat powered.
Once the right amount of heat is achieved in the pipes, it is transferred into the water stores. Cool air then moves through the system, returning the gas back to liquid form.
Pros & Cons
You’ll need a licensed plumber to help install your new hot water system. A qualified plumber with heat pump experience can help you determine what factors you need to take into account before you make your purchase.
Before your heat pump purchase it is important to consider the right unit size, position and set-up for your home as well as the pros and cons of hot water pumps, to help you make an informed decision:
* Lower running costs
* Renewable energy
* Can be installed using existing pipes for electric hot water
* It’s safe - the unit exterior is cool and there are no harmful chemicals or potential gas leaks you can encounter with gas systems.
* When operating the compressor will make noise so you need to be careful with your system placement away from neighbours and bedrooms
* It can be unreliable as climates change frequently during the day and over a year
* There are usually higher servicing costs compared to gas and electric systems
* Bigger upfront costs, although government rebates can help with this
Many Australians are saddled with electric heating systems simply because it’s what the original homeowner installed. These are the most expensive systems to run. Switching to a heat pump from electric heating doesn’t come with a big installation charge like switching to other energy types, because you can use the same piping system.