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How to find the right natural gas hot water system

Australians are increasingly turning to natural gas hot water systems when they’re building, renovating or replacing an old system. It’s not surprising that uptake of natural gas hot water systems is rising – they’re far more environmentally-friendly, they’re more affordable and perform better, too.

Why choose natural gas over the alternatives?

Not only is natural gas more affordable than electric hot water, it’s also better value than LPG. Unlike electricity, gas rates don’t change at peak times of day either. The average family in metro Victoria could actually save around $495, just by switching over from electric hot water and cooking, to natural gas hot water and cooking.

According to Jon Palfrey, training manager at Rheem Australia, natural gas water heaters are a popular choice for plumbers and their customers because of ‘their high efficiency, ease of maintenance and quick recovery that ensures good hot water delivery performance’.

What’s the difference between storage and continuous hot water systems?

Storage gas hot water systems

In most cases, storage gas hot water systems are fast to heat up, heating water in an insulated tank ready to use when it’s needed – even if there’s an unexpected power outage. ‘These systems are generally more suited to households that use multiple hot water outlets simultaneously, as they are able to supply several outlets (showers and taps) without a significant loss in hot water delivery pressure,’ Palfrey explains.

Continuous flow gas hot water

Continuous flow systems only heat water as it passes through a heat exchanger when the tap is in use and they also don’t rely on a pilot light, making them extremely cost effective. According to Palfrey, they can supply hot water continuously and very efficiently, ensuring there’s hot water for the whole family. In addition, temperature controllers can be a handy added extra feature of these systems. They allow you to set the temperature you desire – a great safety feature if you have kids. Gas hot water systems are already a cleaner alternative to most electric units. In particular, continuous flow systems and the sun make a perfect match as they can be used as a ‘solar booster’ to increase the water temperature on days of lower solar gain, without relying on electricity.

How do I choose the best natural gas hot water system for my needs?

Palfrey points out that you’ll need to talk to a plumber or gasfitter before making a purchase. Factors that might impact your choice include: the system’s location in the home, gas supply availability at your property and the volume of water required. The number of household residents, bathrooms and size of the kitchen might also be considerations.

There are benefits of both systems. Gas storage systems typically have a five-star energy rating, can service several water outlets at once and are easily replaced, so re-installation comes at a low cost. Continuous flow systems are small, don’t require ground installation and typically have a six-star energy rating. It’s worth investing in a system with at least five stars. A high star rating ensures a reduced impact on the environment as well as a lower running cost.

Ultimately, you will need to make a choice that reflects the lifestyle patterns in your home – talk to your gasfitter about what’s right for you.

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