Thinking outside the square on water heating
The traditional choices for water heating have been gas, electric, wood, solar thermal, and in some cases coal. Some improvements in these areas have been made over the years, but it’s always good to have a look at new and different approaches to providing for our showers, baths and dishwashing.
One option is heat pump water heaters, which take advantage of efficient heat pump technology to heat water rather than the more familiar heat pumps that are turning up in lounges around the country as space heaters. An information sheet published by the Eco Design Advisor network explains the technology this way: “A heat pump water heater transfers heat from an outside heat source (usually the ambient heat in air) into a hot water tank and uses a compressor/condenser/ evaporator to raise the water temperature, the reverse of the way a fridge works. Heat pump systems use electrical energy only to ‘move’ the heat – they don’t actually ‘make’ heat. This makes heat pump systems much more efficient than traditional electric or gas water heaters.” Another emerging option is solar water heating with a twist. Traditional solar hot water involves passing water directly through a solar collector on the roof where it is heated and returned to the cylinder. This type of system has received criticism due to many improper installations nationwide as well as high repair bills. A simpler solar water heating system has recently been made possible by the importation of inexpensive solar electric panels (photovoltaic), a small electronic gadget, and dual element hot water cylinders. One heating element in the cylinder is connected to the photovoltaic panels and the other is connected to mains power. This system is much easier to install than traditional solar hot water and there is no chance of leaking pipes! For free, independent advice on energy efficiency and healthy homes, ring Nelson at PNCC on 356 8199.