Archive | 6:11 pm

Hot water, under pressure!

14 May

When we moved into this house we realised that the hot water system was 19 years old. That was more than a year ago now, so the (electric, storage) unit has now clicked over 20 years of age – an amazing lifetime for a hot water system.

A couple of weeks ago we ran out of hot water. It was in the evening, so the kids had a coolish bath and it was no real problem. I’ve noticed since then that we’ve been running low pretty regularly, and now today I ran out during my morning shower. That’s getting pretty ridiculous considering we have a 400(ish) litre tank and it is supposed to heat overnight.

So I’m facing the very real possibility that the system has died completely, and I won’t have any hot water in the morning. Not the type of problem you need when you’re 9 months pregnant, and the family is due to stay with you.

So I spent part of the day today calling around for quotes and asking friends for advice. I think I’ve concluded that some sort of gas system is preferable to the ancient electric storage unit that we have currently, but what type?

An instantaneous gas system sounds appealing from a child-safety perspective, but a gas-boosted solar system is much better for the environment.

The problem is, the solar options cost an absolute fortune. For a gas system of the appropriate size I’m looking at $1,500, but for a gas-boosted solar setup the cheapest quote I heard today was $4,500, and I’m not sure it even suits our needs entirely. The gas-boosted solar system with the instantaneous gas booster (my preference because you can control water temperature by outlet for child safety) would set us back almost $7,000.

I’m sure that the solar systems would be great from an environmental perspective, but the hot water component of my electricity bill is only about $75 per quarter. The absolute maximum I could save is $300 per year – so I’m unlikely to recoup the extra upfront cost over the entire lifetime of the system.

At some points in time I might have been tempted to close my eyes and just pay the extra cost, knowing that over 10 years it would be close to break-even and I would be doing the environmentally-responsible thing. But I’m going on maternity leave this week and I don’t have a lazy $7,000 lying around.

Am I being irresponsible? Does anyone have any words of wisdom for me?