Hot Water Systems. Solar Water Heaters

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1 Choosing the ideal Hot Water System depends on how much hot water you need. All businesses need hot water. Whether it is for a cup of coffee or a large bath house for dirty workers to shower, you will need varying amounts and varying temperatures for each task. Solar Water Heaters The most energy efficient way to heat water is via a solar system. The sun is free, so we may as well let it do the work. This system works by putting cold water into the bottom of the collectors. As the water heats up, it rises into the tank and more cold water is put into the bottom of the collectors. This is called the thermosiphon principle. Another form of solar water heating is with Evacuated tubes. Evacuated Tube Collectors use an array of glass tubes that insulate in a similar way to a thermos flask where the heat energy is retained in the tube. This makes them more efficient at retaining heat throughout the day and when the sun is not directly overhead. They can be much more efficient than flat plate panels in some conditions, such as cold climates.

2 Sometimes though, it gets cloudy, so we need a backup just in case. The most efficient back-up is natural gas. Another backup system has an electrical element to heat the water to the desired temperature if the sun is not out. There is some great information about solar water heaters at Gas Water Heaters Another efficient way to heat water is by gas. You can have a storage tank where a large amount of water is heated all at once and stored for use when needed. But the most common gas hot water heaters are instantaneous. Instantaneous heaters do not have any form of storage. Therefore, they heat the water as required. The system slows the water flow rate down to give it enough time to heat the water as it moves through the heater unit to the required temperature. There is more information about gas water heaters at Heat Pumps Heat Pump Water Heaters absorb heat from the outside air and transfer it to heat a connected tank of water. They work on the same principle as a refrigerator but instead of pumping heat out of a refrigerator to keep it cool, they pump heat from the air into water. A heat pump does not use an element to heat the water directly. Electricity is only used to circulate refrigerant which absorbs heat from the air to heat the water. They are approximately three times more efficient than a conventional electric storage water heater.

3 One negative of a heat pump is that they can be noisy. They need a compressor to compress the refrigerant and they also have a fan to bring in warmer air and to remove the cooler air. There are two types of heat pumps. The first is an integrated unit where the evaporator and control gear sits on top of the storage tank. The second type of heat pump is where the evaporator is split from the tank and has connecting pipes between the tank and the evaporator. This is known as a split system. A good website to find out more about Heat Pump water heaters is Most offices also run zip instantaneous electric water heaters in their kitchens. These systems have various storage capacities, some up to a couple of litres. They continually boil water up to their capacity. These are expensive to run and are quite often left on to run whilst no one is in the office. A good idea is to put a timer on these to run whilst in working hours or buy a kettle. Getting the most out of your hot water. It is a good idea to insulate your water pipes between your water heater and taps. A great deal of heat can be lost, particularly over long distances. Another way to save energy is to adjust your thermostat down to 60 degrees. This may need to be done by an electrician but there is no point having 400 litres of hot water at 80 degrees if you only need showers at around 40 degrees. It is important to keep the water temperature in the tank above 60 degrees to stop bacteria from breeding.

4 Checklist: Hot Water Systems The following checklist shows how your business can reduce the amount of energy used for hot water by choosing new technologies, changing some habits, maintaining existing systems and fixing leaks. Factor to consider Relevant? Checked / changed? Assess your existing hot water system Chances are your building already had a hot water system before you moved in. Read up on it and have it inspected to see if it needs replacing. In some cases, the existing tank may be reusable with a new system. Purchasing a new hot water system Choose a system that best suits your budget, location and usage requirements. Systems that are too large for your needs will heat water that you won t use and will cost you more money to run. Research the type of systems available your choice of an electric, gas solar or other system will depend on a range of factors including how much hot water you use, how you use it, existing energy sources (e.g. is natural gas available in your area or is there good sunshine), how much space you have to locate a system, your budget, operating costs, and your existing system. If your new hot water system costs less than $6,500, you may be able to write it off under the small business instant asset write-off. Support for solar hot water heaters and heat pumps is also available under the Renewable Energy Target. Find the correct location The placement of the hot water system can increase or decrease your power and water bills. Locate systems close to bathrooms and wet areas such as laundries, to keep pipework as short as possible. This will also help minimise heat loss. Insulate your hot water system Insulating hot water pipes and tanks will reduce heat loss and is an inexpensive way to reduce your energy bill. About 30 per cent of the energy used to heat water in storage hot water systems is wasted due to heat loss.

5 Service your system regularly This ensures that any cracks or faulty parts can be dealt with promptly to save water leakages and energy consumption. Consider turning off after hours Turn off your system if it won t be used for an extended period of time, such as holidays. Consider turning off the hot water system overnight if you only require hot water during the day. Check the temperature Where available, check the thermostat is set to a level that s appropriate for the purpose of use. Setting the thermostat higher than required will increase your power bills and wastes energy. A general rule in storage systems is to set the temperature to at least 60 C to kill bacteria. Install water saving devices Appliances such as low flow nozzles and electronic sensors on taps will reduce the amount of water used. Leaky Taps Fix any leaky taps promptly. What to do next Use this checklist to check out your existing Hot Water System Assess what your business needs are and get quotes from professional suppliers Don t forget to ask if there are any Government incentives to make the switch to a more energy efficient and sustainable option This Activity received funding from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism as part of the Energy Efficiency Information Grants Program.The views expressed herein are not necessarily the views of the Commonwealth of Australia, and the Commonwealth does not accept responsibility for any information or advice contained herein.

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