Back in 2010, every state legislated to phase out conventional electric hot water systems... except Tasmania. They are terribly inefficient, and you can save a lot of energy by switching to heat pump hot water.
About 25% of the energy used in the average Tasmanian home goes into heating water. Luckily, both solar and heat pump hot water systems are energy-efficient options that can reduce that figure fast.
Pumping heat from the air to your water
Heat pump hot water systems work by pumping warmth out of the air and using it to heat water. They are highly efficient, even when it is very cold outside (down to -10°C) and even in shaded areas. Heat pumps use a fan to draw warmer air in and blow colder air away.
Heat pump systems use only 25% to 33% of the energy of a standard electric hot water system. The Sanden system we recommend works well in Tasmanian conditions and saves you up to 80% of hot water running costs. Sanden also receives the highest number of STC's (government rebate) - see below.
Modern systems have very quiet fans, though you should still find the most appropriate spot to put the unit away from entertainment or relaxation areas. Sanden has a neighbour friendly operation of 37 decibels (less than a library or your computer).
Sanden is the only heat pump hot water system in Australia that uses eco-friendly R744 refrigerant that performs higher compression efficiency with lower energy consumption, thereby allowing more heat to be transferred to the water, for less energy used.
Soaking up the sun's rays
Solar hot water systems catch the sun's rays using a unit on your roof called a "collector", and transfer the heat into a water storage tank. This can provide the majority of your hot water needs, with electricity (or less commonly gas) used to boost the water temperature when it drops on cold and overcast days.
You can operate the booster manually, only switching it on when the sun hasn't been able to produce the hot eater you're needing. Or an automatic booster element can be connected to an "off-peak" electricity tariff, or to a timer switch installed by an electrician to ensure you only boost your solar water heating at times you usually need hot water. This is often an evening "boost" when needed, to provide water for the next morning's family showers. Your installer can help you decide the best option to suit your needs.
Like heat pump hot water systems, solar hot water systems are much cheaper over the long run than conventional hot water systems. To catch the sun’s rays, new evacuated tube technology is better insulated than traditional flat plates, and is well suited to cooler climates like Tasmania.
Deciding which way to go
Heat pump hot water is more cost effective for most people, however they both solar hot water and heat pump hot water perform well. Reasons you might rule out solar hot water are that it tends to be more expensive upfront compared to heat pump hot water (mainly because it takes a lot longer to install); if you don't have enough sunny roof space; if it's a long distance from the sunny part of your roof to your hot water cylinder; or if your particular roof makes installing a solar hot water system difficult or expensive; or if you want to save your roof space for a solar power system.
Compared to conventional water heaters, heat pumps and solar hot water may cost more upfront, but they’re worth it in the long-term thanks to the savings you’ll make on your electricity or gas bills. Federal government rebates called STCs are currently available for both types of system.
Recovering some costs with STC rebates
Eligible small-scale renewable energy systems including solar hot water and heat pump hot water systems are entitled to small-scale technology certificates (STCs) from the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Regulator. STCs can be sold after installation of your system to recoup a portion of the cost of purchasing and installing it.
You can only create your STCs once your system is installed, and you must create them no longer than 12 months after installation. SLT can help you with this process, and we recommend Greenbank Environmental as a company that can process, register and trade your STCs for you with integrity.
As a guide, one small-scale technology certificate is equal to one megawatt hour of eligible renewable electricity either generated or displaced by the system.
In Tasmania this could potentially help you recoup hundreds of dollars once your new system is in place. For more details about STCs visit the Clean Energy Regulator’s website at www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/.