Is a Gas Hot Water System the Best Choice For Your Home?

When you need to heat water for your home, the gas hot water system is one of the most popular options among Australian households.

In fact, they comprise approximately 48% of hot water systems across the country. Hot water is a vital part of our day-to-day lives – we use it for everything from showering to doing the dishes or the laundry. But there are numerous factors worth considering when choosing a water heater, factors ranging from energy efficiency to convenience.

Gas hot water systems tick a lot of the right boxes when it comes to what homeowners are looking for in a quality water heating solution. But are they necessarily the right solution for your home? Let’s take a look at some of their strengths, as well as some of their drawbacks, so you can determine if it’s the best choice for you.

Gas Hot Water System Types 

Before we explore the key features and benefits of a gas hot water heater, it’s worth looking at the types available on the Australian market.

Storage Hot Water Systems

Storage hot water systems consist of an insulated tank, and a gas burner located underneath it. The tank stores the water, while the burner keeps the water heated, usually with the aid of a constantly burning pilot flame. The heat from the burner transfers through the bottom of the tank to heat the water.

As the hot water is required, it comes from the top of the tank. That hot water then gets replenished by cold water through the bottom of the tank. This essentially reactivates the burner to enable it to heat the cold water to the right temperature.

Instantaneous/Continuous Flow Hot Water Systems

Unlike storage systems that keep your water heated all the time, instantaneous gas hot water systems (also known as continuous flow) will only heat water as you need it. They do not use a storage tank.

Both do use a gas burner, however, an instantaneous system heats the water as it moves through a heat exchanger. The burner only gets activated when someone turns the hot tap on.

With this in mind, let’s look at some of the potential benefits and downsides of the gas hot water system.

Benefits Of Natural Gas Water Heaters

Whether you opt for a continuous flow or a storage gas hot water heater, each option will offer a number of advantages that will benefit your home. They can include:

  • High energy efficiency
  • Fast heating capabilities
  • Greater reliability
  • Excellent cost-effectiveness
  • High level performance

Let’s explore them further.

1. Energy Efficiency

One of the key advantages that a gas hot water system has over electric hot water heaters is its energy efficiency.

In a gas-powered model, the heat that gets produced as the gas burns (in the process of combustion) transfers directly to the water. An electric hot water system, however, uses electricity to warm up a heating element which then heats the water.

The combination of the gas reaching higher temperatures at a quicker rate, and heating the water directly without the added heating element, makes it a more efficient water heating solution. It’s worth noting that instantaneous systems are typically more energy efficient than storage water heaters, as storage systems are more prone to heat loss.

2. Fast Heating

When you need hot water quickly, you don’t want to stand at the tap while you wait for it to heat up. Not only can it be inconvenient, it can be wasteful as well. Thankfully, gas hot water systems are able to supply you with hot water quickly, so everyone can have fast, convenient access when they need it.

As opposed to electric hot water systems that heat the water with a heating element, gas-powered models heat the water directly using the gas burner. This enables quicker heating, especially if you have a storage system, without the excruciating wait for an element to heat up.

3. Reliable Hot Water

Gas hot water systems are generally well-regarded for their dependability and extensive lifespan. They are typically developed and manufactured for optimal durability. Compared to electric water heaters, a gas hot water system is less vulnerable to potential breakdowns. They have fewer components, which means they are less prone to possible wear and tear.

And in the event of a power failure, whether just in your home or in the neighbourhood, your gas water heater will still continue to work. Unlike the electric hot water system, you’re not completely reliant on having working electricity.

So, when you find yourself in the midst of an unexpected (and potentially lengthy) power outage, you can still enjoy a piping hot bath or shower!

4. Cost Effective

More often than not, a gas hot water system is more expensive at the point of purchase than an electric water heater. There is also the installation and gas connection costs to factor in as well.

These can be a determining factor for many shoppers as to which option they choose. But it’s important to note that gas hot water heaters are typically cheaper to run as they are more energy efficient. The energy bill savings you can potentially enjoy may even offset the difference in the purchase and installation costs.

Gas hot water systems are generally less expensive to maintain than electric models as well, as they have fewer components and replacement parts to work on. All in all, they can make for a highly cost-effective option for your home.

5. High Performance

If you’re looking for a water heating solution that is capable of providing large volumes of hot water, a gas hot water system certainly ticks the box. They’re able to accommodate the various needs of large households or homes with numerous bathrooms. Gas water heaters are designed to supply higher volumes of hot water than electric systems.

It means that household members can possibly use the shower, washing machine and dishwasher at the same time without losing hot water! A gas hot water system effectively gives you the confidence of knowing you won’t run out of hot water, even at times of peak usage.

Disadvantages of Gas Hot Water Systems

Though a gas hot water system certainly presents many advantages and benefits, it may not be the right option for everyone. As with any type of hot water system, including electric, heat pump and solar hot water systems, gas water heaters have their strengths and drawbacks. We’ve looked at some of the pros, so let’s look at some of the cons as well. Among them are:

  • Upfront purchase and installation costs
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Limited availability of natural gas

1. Upfront Costs

We mentioned it before, but gas water heaters are typically more expensive to purchase and install than their electric-powered counterparts. The running cost savings can offset the purchase costs over time. However, that might not mean much when you need to replace a hot water system without any notice and you can’t find the $$$ in the household budget to pay for a gas-powered system.

2. Emissions

Though a natural gas hot water system is more efficient than an electric water heater, they’re not completely innocent when it comes to environmental impact.

Like any LPG or natural gas powered appliances, gas hot water systems also produce carbon dioxide and other pollutants. These can add to the pollution in the air and contribute to the climate change problem.

If you do need to purchase a gas hot water system, and want the most eco-friendly option you can find, look for one with the highest energy star rating.

3. Limited Availability

It might surprise you to find out that some areas may not have access to natural gas, which makes installing and connecting a gas hot water system somewhat difficult. It may not be completely impossible, but may be expensive to work around that issue – especially if you need additional infrastructure to make it happen.

Other potential disadvantages include potential noise issues and possible safety risks, especially if there is a gas leak.

In Summary …

The gas hot water system can make a worthy addition to almost any home. It offers a variety of benefits that include:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Fast heating capabilities
  • Reliability and durability
  • Cost effectiveness
  • High performance

However, they’re not without their drawbacks as well, which can include:

  • Upfront purchase and installation costs
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Limited availability
  • Potential safety risks
  • Noise

Nevertheless, the gas hot water system remains a well-regarded heating solution for many households. But it is crucial to weigh up the pros against the cons and consider your specific needs and circumstances in order to make an informed decision and determine whether it’s right for you.

Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.

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