With winter settled in and here to stay for a while, it is appropriate to think about the way you heat water in your home and whether or not it is effective and efficient enough for your needs. Find out more about the available options.
Keeping it hot
Energy efficiency is foremost in many people’s minds, especially in the winter months. More than a quarter of a household’s energy use can be attributed to water heating, but an efficient system can help to reduce energy bills. Hot water systems are usually either gas or electric hot water cylinders which heat and store water, or continuous flow systems where water is heated as it goes through the system.
Using a solar powered heating system is a good use of a renewable resource. Solar panels capture the sun’s rays and convert the energy to electricity. The sun may not shine every day, but water heated by the energy of the sun can be stored in a properly insulated tank for when it is needed. When the sun isn’t sufficient to heat enough water, a gas or electric system connected to the solar water heater can be used. In this way, the sun can heat between 50% and 70% of a household’s hot water.
Solar water heating systems can be expensive initially, but they are supposed to save money in the long run by using free energy.
A hot water heat pump is designed to be more energy-efficient than other systems, and because it works differently to solar heating, it can be used in places with low sun exposure.
A heat pump moves heat around rather than producing heat itself. Energy is taken from places like the garage, the outdoors, underneath the house or in the ceiling space, and it is stored in the hot water tank. The warmer the air temperature outside, the better a heat pump can heat up your house and your water. Even in temperatures below zero, it should still work more efficiently than a regular gas or electric heater. Some heat pump water heaters are better for warmer climates, so check if it is the right kind for the area where you live before you buy one.
Some heat pump water heaters can also provide a kind of central heating by pumping hot water from the tank around the house via under-floor pipes. They can even be used to heat a bath or spa pool for less than you would pay for electric heating.
A wetback is another method of heating water. If a fireplace is the main heat source in a home, it can be fitted with pipes in the rear of the firebox so that water from the hot water cylinder can circulate through the pipes to be heated by the fire.
Less of the heat from the fireplace actually ends up in the room, but if you have chosen a big enough wood or pellet burner suitable for a wetback, it won’t be a problem. For the best results, the water cylinder should be quite close to the wetback and the pipes should be sloped so that the water naturally runs through the heat exchanger.
When you’ve found the right option for you, take the first steps to make sure you stay cosy this winter and spring, with plenty of hot water on tap when you need it.
First posted by Mortgage Express