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Electric hot water systems defended

By johnboy - 18 June 2009 22

Andrew Barr had his wrist slapped yesterday for not fronting estimates committees when asked to (the ABC has details).

But he’s certainly revelling in seeing off Green plans to get electric hot water systems banned in the ACT:

    The main problems with the Greens Party’s original ill-conceived legislation include:

    · A lack of realisation that electric water heaters are highly efficient and that it is the source of power rather than its use in this case which generates greenhouse emissions. The Greens Party plan would see more gas fired heaters used which are less energy and less water efficient

    · A lack of consultation. Its clear there has been little or no consultation with industry. With the Greens Party pushing for this ban to take effect in 2009, there would not be time or the opportunity for people who may have pre-ordered electric hot water heaters for houses yet to be constructed to make other arrangements or seek refunds. Significant consultation with industry would be needed, and a longer lead-in time may be required.

    · A lack of ability to drive efficiency of the water heater system as a whole. The Greens Party scheme refers to ‘hot water systems’ however it largely failed to recognise that the whole system needs to be considered including pipes and outlets in addition to the water heater itself.

Andrew has un-kindly offered to send the Greens’ proposal off to a committee investigation where they can examine the triple bottom line impacts of their proposal and reveal who they consulted with before introducing their legislation.

What’s Your opinion?


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22 Responses to
Electric hot water systems defended
ChrisinTurner 8:20 am 19 Jun 09

Getting back to the arguement that electric water heaters are efficient (the Labor view), I spoke to Andrew Barr’s advisor yesterday and he says electric heaters are efficient in converting electricity to hot water (true) but agrees that if you get that electricity from a coal-fired powerhouse then the carbon footprint of electric hot water is twice as bad as gas hot water. That is why juristictions throughout the world are now banning electric hot water systems. South Australia is a local example. They are so bad the USA Dept of Energy has recently decided not to award any “stars” to electric hot water systems.

The cat did it 11:01 pm 18 Jun 09

AG and Niftydog- it’s more likely to be a plumber issue than a heater setting issue. Storage heaters are supposed to hold water at at least 60 degrees for health reasons (don’t want bugs growing in them). The 50 degree limit only applies to bathing locations- a plumber can split the hot water system’s output, so that one line provides full heat water to the kitchen/laundry, while the line to the bathroom is fitted with a tempering valve that adds some cold water to the line so that the water at the tap is no more than 50 degrees. Lazy plumbers have been known to instal the tempering valve without splitting the output line, so ALL the output water is cooled below 50 degrees. Have a close look at the connections to your hot water system.

For most instantaneous gas water heaters, be aware that the temperature limit is adjustable via a series of jumpers on the circuit board. Also be aware that it is illegal in Australia for non-authorised people to tamper with these, and accordingly information on doing so is somewhat restricted. But they are not so secretive in New Zealand- Google is your friend.

Lastly, be aware that there are a few models of storage hot water systems that come from the factory set to a lower (55 degrees) output- these are intended for direct connection to bathroom taps, but it one was used for the sole hot water supply, then occupants would be doomed to tepid water in the kitchen. If you are just getting a system replaced, you are entitled to get ‘like for like’, so the water should be no cooler than you had before.

On the original subject of the post- the Greens sometimes come out with these breathtaking bursts of daftness and ideological ‘purity’. Not content to let market forces and generous incentives work, they have to get the additional ideological purity that comes from banning things outright. I think there’s a Monty Python sketch in this somewhere, with a People’s Front for Renewable Energy etc …

I-filed 10:35 pm 18 Jun 09

Pandy said :

AG you are a bit wront. As has already been said on RiotACT, the 50 degree thing does not apply to laundries and kitchens.

Sort of – it’s 50 degrees for the whole house unless you pay for a bypass to the kitchen and laundry, isn’t it? I was quoted $350 to have that bypassing done.

Pandy 10:20 pm 18 Jun 09

AG you are a bit wront. As has already been said on RiotACT, the 50 degree thing does not apply to laundries and kitchens.

Hells_Bells74 5:34 pm 18 Jun 09

Niftydog – You describe my mum’s all-new system too. Shit! Hers is great in the shower thank God for small mercies. Shit for me as I clean her house weekly and the others rooms are a long wait till hot water in – then hot water out for longer than it’s in repeat entire process enough to drive you mad, can’t fill a sink or bucket with hot water at all until you learn tricks and even then!

Never had a problem with her big trusty Rheem in the laundry and never cost her that much really.

AG Canberra 4:17 pm 18 Jun 09

Niftydog – that 50 degree thing is not thanks to the plumber – it’s thanks to our dictatorial governors who think anything over 50 is too dangerous for the kiddies. This means having to boil the kettle to get water hot enough to clean up a greasy fry pan! So I can be green – but only until it’s time to wash up….

Spectra 4:12 pm 18 Jun 09

Okay, accepting for a moment that the instantaneous gas fired ones use more water in terms of running the tap longer before it gets hot (a claim of which I’m not entirely convinced, but I’ll let it go for the sake of argument), that still doesn’t explain his opposition to “gas fired heaters” in general on those grounds (which is certainly how the press release reads).

54-11 2:39 pm 18 Jun 09

Generally speaking, I reckon that Barr is a halfwit, particularly over the school closures and now the hospital car park. However, i think he’s right on this one – unfortunately the Greens have gone off half-cocked and failed to fire on this particular bit of nonsense policy.

miz 1:26 pm 18 Jun 09

Could the Fed incentive Caf mentions explain the rollout to ACT Housing properties (even when not needed)? (refer http://the-riotact.com/?p=12536)

niftydog 1:16 pm 18 Jun 09

For short, intermittent bursts of hot water (kitchen) an instantaneous gas heater suxors.

The second the water stops flowing the fan starts cooling down the heat exchanger. If you turn on the tap again, say, a minute later, the heat exchanger is cold, and is being fed with cold water. The cold water that initially flows also cools down the pipes that had the residual hot water in them!

To top it off, thanks to the idiot plumber, I’m stuck with one that’s limited to 50 degrees which is hardly what you’d call hot.

Igglepiggle 1:02 pm 18 Jun 09

caf said :

People seem to think that instantaneous gas water heaters waste more water than storage heaters.

I’m not really sure why. In houses I’ve lived in with electric storage, gas storage and instantaneous gas i’ve always had to run the water for a little while before it runs hot.

Probably because if you have ongoing gas hot water you are likely to have a longer shower, whereas if you have a limited electric supply and the hubby has to get in after you, you get out pretty promptly if you don’t want to never hear the end of the “cold shower I had to have” story….

caf 11:52 am 18 Jun 09
dvaey 11:41 am 18 Jun 09

If its such a good idea, why does it need legislation?
If its such a good idea, why not subsidise the replacement of all electric heaters, with gas heaters?

What, you mean its not such a good idea when youre the one who has to fork over the money? Another example of our assembly at its finest.

caf 11:15 am 18 Jun 09

People seem to think that instantaneous gas water heaters waste more water than storage heaters.

I’m not really sure why. In houses I’ve lived in with electric storage, gas storage and instantaneous gas i’ve always had to run the water for a little while before it runs hot.

Spectra 9:54 am 18 Jun 09

I’m curious – how are gas fired heaters “less water efficient”? There may be a very sensible answer I’m missing here, but I can’t think what it is…

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