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We’ve all been there – that dreaded moment when a burst of icy water disrupts your soothing morning shower and makes you shriek in fright. A hot water system plays a crucial role in your daily routine, despite its occasional temperamental nature.

So, whether you’re in the throes of a hot water crisis or contemplating an upgrade for better efficiency and perhaps some cost savings; this guide will equip you with everything you need to know.

We’ll explore the essential factors to consider when delving into the hot water system market. From deciphering the ideal system size and type, to exploring brands that stand the test of time, we’re here to empower your decision-making process. We all deserve a hot water system that not only meets your needs but enhances your daily comfort.

Solar panels and solar hot water

Picking The Right System

First, let’s explore the different types of hot water systems:

Electric Hot Water Heater Systems

Electric hot water systems are prevalent for their reliability and versatility. These systems use electricity to heat water, offering both traditional tank-style heaters and tankless options too. Tank systems store and heat a specific amount of water, suitable for various household sizes. The larger the tank, the more hot water available – simple right? On the other hand, tankless models provide hot water on demand, ensuring an endless supply through the water network. Electric water heaters are known for their ease of installation and cost-effectiveness, making them a popular choice for many homes.

Gas Hot Water Systems

Gas-powered hot water systems utilise natural gas to heat water efficiently and are available in both tank and tankless configurations. Like electric systems, gas hot water systems can use tap-into tank systems which maintain a reservoir of hot water, suitable for consistent usage. Tankless options heat water instantly, providing an on-demand supply. Gas hot water systems often appeal to users looking for cost-effective solutions, as they can lead to savings on gas bills over time. The choice between tank and tankless depends on your household usage, location and preference.

Solar Hot Water Systems

Embracing solar hot water systems is well-suited to those looking for more sustainable options. These systems harness the power of sunlight to heat water, reducing reliance on conventional energy sources and alleviating pressure on the electricity grid. While the initial investment is often higher compared to other systems, the long-term benefits are substantial – state incentives are also available (which we will unpack further on).

Heat Pump Hot Water Systems

These operate on an innovative principle, extracting heat from the ambient air to warm the water. Despite potential operational noise – akin to a dull drone – these systems excel in energy efficiency. They are an ideal choice for environmentally conscious homes as well, offering significant savings on energy costs over time, despite the upfront cost being higher.
Once you’ve figured out which hot water system is best suited to your household needs, you’ll need to consider the different brands available. Opting for a reputable and reliable brand, such as Solahart, Vulcan, or Dux, ensures not only durability but also efficient performance. Considering customer reviews and brand ratings can provide valuable insights into the satisfaction levels of users and can aid your decision-making process.

Cost comparison

Type of Hot Water System (Residential) Average Installation Cost Average Annual Running Cost
Heat Pump $3,000 – $5,000 $398*
Gas $1,500 – $3,000 $1,369 – $1,712
Solar $3,000 – $7,000 $319 – $690*
Electric $1,000 – $2,000 $1,275*

Source: https://www.rheem.com.au/rheem/help/running-cost-calculator
*Based on Residential Rate

Installation Considerations

Installing a hot water system can incur many unforeseen costs, which can significantly contribute to your expenses if not considered beforehand.

Delivery Cost

In your pursuit of the ideal hot water system, it’s crucial to also consider delivery costs and accessibility, which can substantially impact your overall budget and are often unforeseen. Some vendors might seamlessly integrate shipping fees into the overall price, while others could necessitate additional payments. The size of the unit, travel distance, and potential challenges related to accessibility all contribute to the overall delivery expenses.

Accessibility Matters

Consider the accessibility of your installation space as well. If your installation area poses challenges such as stairs or other difficult access points, it can escalate both delivery and installation costs.

Installation Duration and Costs

For straightforward replacements, like swapping an electric heating unit, gas, or pump-style system for a similar one, the installation process typically takes two to three hours. However, the simplicity of the exchange reflects in a moderate cost, ranging between $220 and $660. On the flip side, more complex units, such as solar power systems, demand a more extensive and time-consuming installation process. It might extend to a couple of days, requiring meticulous planning and execution. Switching to a different energy style, be it from electric to gas or vice versa, incurs higher fees, including the additional costs of new fittings and pipes. Such transformations could set you back anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000.

Tip: obtain multiple quotes from reputable installers. Comparing these quotes will not only help you understand the market rates but also enable you to make an informed decision aligned with your budget.

Disposal Of The Old System

One often overlooked aspect in the hot water system replacement process is the disposal of the old unit. Before finalising the installation, check with your service provider about the disposal process. While some installation crews may offer to remove the old unit for an additional fee, others might provide this service for free, especially if you commit to ongoing maintenance with the company. Proper disposal ensures the environmentally friendly retirement of your old system, contributing to sustainability efforts.

It’s crucial you choose a trusted hot water system installer to ensure expert installation, compliance with regulations, efficient setup, accurate sizing, transparent costs, and post-installation assistance.

Top down view of a row of residential homes with solar panels on the roof

Government Rebates: Green Incentives For Sustainable Living

In the pursuit of sustainable living and environmental responsibility, government rebates come into play, offering financial incentives to ease the cost burden of transitioning to eco-friendly hot water systems such as solar. Governments, both at the federal and state levels, recognise the importance of reducing carbon footprints and promoting energy-efficient technologies. As a result, various rebate programs aim to encourage households to embrace greener alternatives, particularly in the realm of hot water systems.

Here are some key points to consider:

Federal Government initiatives

The federal government provides a platform, often through dedicated websites, where you can explore rebates based on your location and specific criteria. One prominent scheme is the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, offering incentives for adopting solar and heat pump hot water systems. Local hot water installers such can advise of any rebates that may apply in the your area.

State-based Programmes

Different states may have additional schemes to support energy-efficient choices. In Queensland, the government has established specific programs aimed at promoting the use of solar hot water systems. These include rebates and incentives for homeowners who choose to install such systems in their residences. The Queensland government’s focus is on reducing energy consumption and lowering greenhouse gas emissions, aligning with national goals for a more sustainable future. Refer to https://www.energy.gov.au/state/qld for more information.


Navigating the maze of hot water systems doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By understanding the different types available—electric, gas, solar, and heat pump—you can make an informed choice that aligns with your household needs, budget constraints, and environmental values. Remember to consider factors like system size, type, brand reliability, installation complexities, and costs, including potential unforeseen expenses like delivery and disposal fees.

Moreover, exploring government rebates and incentives for sustainable options can significantly offset initial costs and contribute to a greener lifestyle. It’s essential to obtain multiple quotes from reputable installers to ensure you get the best deal that aligns with your budget and needs.

Ultimately, investing in the right hot water system not only enhances your daily comfort but also adds value to your home and helps in conserving the environment. Armed with the comprehensive guide provided, you are now equipped to make a decision that ensures many warm showers ahead, without the unexpected chill of regret.