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Shower heading blasting hot water.
Research report
Last updated 7 April 2020

5 tips for saving money on your hot water

A few tweaks to your hot water system and usage can result in big savings.

If you’re in hot water over your latest power bill, remember water heating accounts for about 30% of household energy usage. A few tweaks to your hot water system and usage can result in big savings.

1. Insulate your cylinder

First, check your hot water system’s insulation. Cylinders and pipes installed before about 2002 generally aren’t well insulated – you can buy cylinder wraps from hardware stores for about $60 and pipe insulation from $5 per metre (ask for “thermal pipe lagging”). New cylinders lose less heat with extra insulation, but could still benefit from an insulating wrap.

2. Think about your electricity plan

You can also save money by running your hot water cylinder only at night, but you’ll need to be on one of the following electricity plans:

  • Controlled, where you have separately wired appliances (normally the hot water cylinder) that the electricity company can switch off for a few hours each day during peak times in return for a lower electricity price.
  • Time-of-use, where the amount you pay for all electricity changes depending on the time you use it, with lower night and off-peak tariffs.

Not sure which type of power plan you're on? Check your latest electricity bill, or contact your retailer to find out.

3. Install an efficient showerhead

Installing an efficient showerhead can save you hundreds of dollars per year. The rule of thumb is your shower is wasting water if it fills a 10L bucket in less than a minute. Replace your inefficient showerhead with one with a flow rate of less than 9L per minute. The showerhead will save water while still giving a good combination of comfort and effectiveness.

4. Try using both hot water cylinder elements

Some people think only using one hot water cylinder element can save power. But in fact, switching both elements on may be more efficient as it promotes even heating of the water through convection (the circulation of water due to hot water having a lower density and rising to the top).

5. Check the temperature

A hot water cylinder usually maintains its water temperature at about 60°C and 55°C at the tap (to prevent scalding). Anything above this mark is a waste of power and an injury risk. Check the temperatures at the tap first, if it's above 55°C it'll be a dead giveaway that it's set too high in the cylinder. Some cylinders will let you manually adjust the temperatures but you might need to call in a tradie to help out with this task.

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