The Greens come for the electric hot water services

johnboy 31 March 2009 29

The Greens have declared war on one of the simplest and most efficient symbols of western civilisation, the electric hot water system.

    ACT Greens spokesperson for Planning, Caroline Le Couteur MLA, will introduce a bill this week designed to minimise the environmental and financial costs of hot water heating for ACT homes.

    Under Ms Le Couteur’s bill, hot water systems installed in new ACT houses and townhouses will need to be low emission types such as solar, heat pump, or efficient gas. From next year, the efficiency standard will also apply to anyone replacing a hot water system in their existing house or townhouse.

    “With the Government rebates currently available, efficient hot water systems are actually the most sensible economic choice right now,” Ms Le Couteur said.

If it’s such a no-brainer to go with the alternatives why do we need a law?


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29 Responses to The Greens come for the electric hot water services
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Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 9:57 am 01 Apr 09

Digga, the single issue NIMBY.

Earth Hour -> Gas hot water -> Gas turbine -> OMG TEH GAS TURBERINES AT HUME DATA CENETR WILL SUFFOCATE ME IN MY SLEEP!11!!

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 9:26 am 01 Apr 09

Mono: I was referring to the costs of electric storage HWSs.
If you wish to go with “instant” gas HWS then fine. As mentioned above they have a short life span though. And get a grey water system, because you go through a lot of water waiting for that instant hot water.

monomania monomania 11:03 pm 31 Mar 09

Gungahlin Al said :

Affordable your numbers are way wrong.

Suffice to say that the net extra cost after deducting RECs and cost of an electric storage system for our 30 tube 250 litre system was just $2375 – or a payback period of 3 years if it saves you $800pa. Which I’m sure ours does vs the electric storage HWS we had in our last rental. (Have to check the old bills…)

Savings of just $300pa? In Canberra? I think not. We have electric boost (which is cheap) on a manual switch, so it only ever goes on when we want it to. Last time was November I think when we had 3 cloudy days running.

Smaller families that are careful with their water use can get away with hot water bills of $200pa. Where is your pay back* period then? Particularly with a gas boosted system that Caroline Le Couteur MLA wants to force people to install. The only people with a payback period will be families that need lots of hot water or are wasteful.

* Not only for the householder but for the taxpayer who has sunk $1600 and ultimately has to pay for $1000 worth of RECs for a system that is saving little carbon because the householder is acting environmentally responsibly.

poppy poppy 10:23 pm 31 Mar 09

I think the Greens haven’t considered the political consequences when many low income earning “working families” (at least those that are owner occupiers) have to come up with thousands of dollars extra overnight because their electric system failed and they don’t have a gas connnection, or they have a gas connection but it’s very expensive to re-configure the gas to connect to a new hot water system. These “working families” may have thought the Greens idea was good at the time. The working families could probably manage the cost of a replacement electric storage system on a credit card but not a solar system. Remember whenever something starts to become mandatory, rebates get scaled back or removed because there is no need for incentive when something is required anyway (eg there is no rainwater tank rebate for a new home where building codes require a tank anyway). I think there may be some battlers going to go without hot water for a while?

Digga Digga 9:54 pm 31 Mar 09

Ah, the ACT “Greens”. Doesn’t matter what you do at the household level – with Earth Hour we Canberrans saved 27 tonnes! If you held Earth Hour every night, that would save just 2.5% of ActewAGL’s gas-fired turbines they’re going to build at the Hume data centre (that output 187,000-280,000 tonnes of CO2 a year).

Why can’t we force THEM to use their own Green Choice renewable sourced energy? Why are we given the guilt trip when they’re building major fossil fuel infrastructure? How many households have to put in solar hot water, energy efficient light bulbs, and replace petrol with hybrid cars to compensate even 187,000 tonnes of CO2?

There’s no hope people.

monomania monomania 9:34 pm 31 Mar 09

Gungahlin Al said :

For the apparent free-marketeers here, if electric storage HWSs are removed from the market, solar HWS will rapidly hit efficient economies of scale, bringing down the price for everyone.

This may be the case. Its become a mantra being widely quoted by people seeking to use renewable technology that isn’t cost effective at the moment but relies on subsidy.

It’s all very well talking about payback periods for individuals using this technology. There is only a reasonable payback period less than infinity because the taxpayer stumps up $1600 and there are about $1000 of RECs or about 40% of the cost.

I’ll admit solar space heating and solar hot water are a lot closer to cost effectiveness than PV or Hybrids.

sepi sepi 9:03 pm 31 Mar 09

We save a stack more than 300PA on our solar hot water too. And ours came with a 15 year warranty, so service calls are totally free (only had one, but it was painless!).

And apart from the savings on what you would normally use, you can use hot water for stuff like clothes washing, where without free hot water you might choose to go for cold.

smokey4 smokey4 8:53 pm 31 Mar 09

In 1983 I bought and fitted 300 ltr solarhart hot water service on my roof. It has an electric booster which is required from the Autumn equinox through winter to spring the equinox. The other 6 months of the year it can hold its own fairly well.

I work in the industry and the life of an instant heat gas hot water service is from 8 to 10 years. Alot of heat in a very small area leads to stress fractures etc. My Solarhart is still going strong after 25 years of use.

Sometimes we need the govt to force us to see the long term benefits.

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy 8:08 pm 31 Mar 09

If the government interferes by specifying which technologies get the best market share, it is likely to stop industry from finding better solutions to our natural resource and pollution problems.

Absolutely. It’s worth noting too that the solutions that end up making it to the marketplace aren’t always the most sophisticated, but rather those that offer the best blend of cost and functionality.

When you can buy a small car for less than $16k that gives 6l/100km or better, it hardly seems worth it to spend $35-40k on a car that can do 4.5l/100km, especially when the environmental cost of the batteries is taken into account.

I’d be very interested to see what sort of fuel consumption a Tata Nano achieves. A $3000 car brand new!

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 8:07 pm 31 Mar 09

Pickle said :

I thought off peak hot water tariffs were introduced to give the coal fired base load power stations something to do at night.

And I thought that was cause you could not simply turn down the heat on a coal plant with out causing other problems.

Now if those thoughts are true then you need an equivalent load reduction in the day time to make up for it.

Your first two points are correct Pickle, but not your last. In a rapidly growing consumption scenario like we have, anything that goes over to renewables unfortunately does not reduce need for existing coal-fired power – it reduces the amount of new generation required. We have a long long long way to go before we have enough renewables that we can start winding down coal power stations…

This policy from the Greens is a small step, but a step in the right direction. Congrats Caroline.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 8:04 pm 31 Mar 09

affordable said :

AL, not sure about paying it off in 3 years, saw advertised average saving of $300 a year, a $6000 – $9000 system + installation is going to take on average 20-30 years to pay for, will they last this long, unless you have large family, a standard gas instantaneous system ( $1200 ) is much more cost efficient for households of 1-4 people and more so for people that are already very wise with energy use

Affordable your numbers are way wrong.

I had a full breakdown of actual costs all typed up, with weblinks to substantiate all my calculations (starting here: http://www.enviro-friendly.com/evacuated-tube-solar-hot-water.shtml ) but hit the back button in the wrong window grrrrrrrr. Buggered if I’m redoing it all.

Suffice to say that the net extra cost after deducting RECs and cost of an electric storage system for our 30 tube 250 litre system was just $2375 – or a payback period of 3 years if it saves you $800pa. Which I’m sure ours does vs the electric storage HWS we had in our last rental. (Have to check the old bills…)

Savings of just $300pa? In Canberra? I think not. We have electric boost (which is cheap) on a manual switch, so it only ever goes on when we want it to. Last time was November I think when we had 3 cloudy days running.

poppy poppy 7:50 pm 31 Mar 09

MrPC said :

If only these laws could extend to landlords…

They do. A landlord building a new rental property or replacing a hot water system in an existing rental property will face the same requirements as an owner occupier.

And the reason most landlords don’t replace existing electric systems with solar etc is because most tenants won’t pay one cent extra in rent for the efficient system. A tenant will often, however, pay extra for an energy guzzling air con system. When your hot water systems broke down, did you even suggest to the landlord that if they replaced it with an efficient system, saving you money in electricity, you would be happy to share the savings in the form of increased rent?

If you think the landlord should install solar just to help the environment then how about you pay to install the system on the landlord’s property to also help the environment. I suggest you would not do this – because you would not be willing to fork out thousands of dollars to benefit someone else much more than you.

Pickle Pickle 7:37 pm 31 Mar 09

I thought off peak hot water tariffs were introduced to give the coal fired base load power stations something to do at night.

And I thought that was cause you could not simply turn down the heat on a coal plant with out causing other problems.

Now if those thoughts are true then you need an equivalent load reduction in the day time to make up for it.

trevar trevar 7:33 pm 31 Mar 09

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy said :

Over the next few years you’ll see car makers get better at these types of vehicle, and the results will be pretty amazing. Until then, small diesel seems to me to be a better option.

You’re right about that. And that’s why I think the principle of a free market should be upheld first and foremost (and I am not a filthy capitalist!). If the government interferes by specifying which technologies get the best market share, it is likely to stop industry from finding better solutions to our natural resource and pollution problems. Governments might need to place restrictions on polluters, but shouldn’t interfere with uptake of new technologies.

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy 7:11 pm 31 Mar 09

I have an instantaneous gas hot water system, and it not only works well, but costs absolutely bugger all to run. I like the idea of only heating water you need to.

MrPC MrPC 6:32 pm 31 Mar 09

I’ve lived in a few rental premises where the electric HWS needed replacing. Even where gas was available, or where a great solar aspect was available, the landlord always just told the plumber to put in the exact same electic HWS that was there before, the kind without an off peak feature.

When the landlord doesn’t pay the electricity bill, they have no interest in making a sensible choice.

If only these laws could extend to landlords…

affordable affordable 6:08 pm 31 Mar 09

AL, not sure about paying it off in 3 years, saw advertised average saving of $300 a year, a $6000 – $9000 system + installation is going to take on average 20-30 years to pay for, will they last this long, unless you have large family, a standard gas instantaneous system ( $1200 ) is much more cost efficient for households of 1-4 people and more so for people that are already very wise with energy use

Granny Granny 5:01 pm 31 Mar 09

I’m for it.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 4:30 pm 31 Mar 09

I’m entirely comfortable with this proposal. I worked on the policy for SEQROC that ended up being pretty much adopted for Qld-wide use that did much the same thing.

The problem with hot water is that along with insulation it is one of the single biggest things a house builder can do to reduce lifelong high electricity consumption (irrespective of what you may think of the greenhouse situation). But electric storage HWS are absurdly cheap, and do not in any way reflect the long term costs to the wider community of taking the cheap route.

It is often this cheap decision that is taken by landlords because they don’t care a bump about the ongoing operational costs – tenant’s problem! For others it’s just “sticker shock” – regardless of the savings paying the thing off in 3 years or less!

For the apparent free-marketeers here, if electric storage HWSs are removed from the market, solar HWS will rapidly hit efficient economies of scale, bringing down the price for everyone.

sepi sepi 4:02 pm 31 Mar 09

My house doesn’t have a gas connection – are they going to subsidise that?

I do think everyone who can should get solar hot water tho – hot water becomes practically free for at least half the year, and cheaper thru the rest of the year.

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