by Peter Daley
The cost of electricity is going up world wide, so get smart and save yourself heaps of money.
If they follow through with these suggestions, businesses, and families can potentially save a mint off their yearly electricity bill. The hot water system is the equivalent of a small family car sitting in the garage with the motor idling. It is producing huge amounts of CO2 and costing lots of money to run.
OK, turning your air conditioner to a slightly warmer temperature, plus turning off appliances, computers, lights and gadgets, at the wall when not in use can save you lots of money. An item often overlooked for significant savings is the hot water system.
Independent of politics, environment issues, or the fact you may not accept global warming as being caused by CO2 emissions, setting your hot water system to work efficiently can save you a lot of money per year. If you have concerns about the effects we're having on the environment, this is a huge bonus, as it will significantly cut down on your CO2 emissions footprint!
Firstly check on your electricity bill to see whether your hot water system is on an off peak tariff. If in doubt call your electricity company, and ask what tariff your hot water system is on. Electricity companies will give you big discounts if you have your hot water on an off peak switch. This means your hot water system is turned on, and off remotely, when their generation load is less. This will be shown on your present electricity bill.
For domestic use in Australia the cheapest tariff for this purpose is referred to as tariff 31, the next best is tariff 33. Businesses check with your supplier as to what is the cheapest tariff for your purposes. If your hot water system isn't on the off peak tariff, it will be well worth getting an off peak switch installed in the meter box. Getting yourself onto the cheaper tariff can potentially take 30% to 50% of your electricity bill! It will probably cost around A$150 to get one of these switches installed in your meter box by a qualified electrician, for a domestic use. Small price to pay, compared to the over all cost of your ongoing electricity bill.
Here is a list of the pricing for the different tariffs. Just look at the large savings that can be made. It does very in price from state to state and supplier. Tariff 11: 14.04 cents per Kwh. This is the normal domestic tariff for lighting and general power use. If your hot water is operating on this tariff you're paying heaps more for your electricity than you should.
Tariff 33: 8.44 cents per Kwh. Next best money saving tariff.
Tariff 31: 5.73 cents per Kwh. Best money saving tariff. (Prices as of August 2007)
If your hot water system is not on the cheapest tariff you will have your hot water system wasting lots of electricity, generating lots of CO2 , and affecting your hip pocket for absolutely no reason. OK, leave it on the expensive tariff if you like making a donation to the electricity company.
Now go and have a look at you hot water system. If it is electric you will find a valve for topping up the hot water reserve inside the system. This is usually a pull up lever or tap. Switch on the valve and wait until you hear the water flow out through the overflow. This indicates the system is full. Now turn off the top up valve. This will make maximum use of the electricity that is used to heat the water. You should top up the hot water system regularly to get maximum efficiency from your hot water system.
Get and electrician to see if your hot water system can safely be turned down to a medium or low temperature setting on its thermostat. Most hot water systems are set to high on instillation, and large percentage of you could easily get away with a medium or low thermostat temperature setting. It can always be turned back if you don't like it. Doing this can potentially half your electricity bill. Even Solar hot water systems have a small hot water booster system connected to the mains power so you can get hot water on cloudy days. This also has a thermostat that can be also adjusted.
(Warning: If you set your hot water system to too low a temperature it can encourage the growth of dangerous bacteria, so consult your electrician about the best setting for your particular environment.)
For those of you who want to take it a bit further you can also get more savings by using special insulation blankets that you can purchase to cover the hot water system that can improve its efficiency, plus you can insulated the hot water pipes.
Tell your friends and relatives to check this out so they can save as well. If you have any uncertainty about how to implement any of the suggestions here please consult your electrician.
© Peter Daley 2009
Disclaimer: This is an amateur volunteer run service. Human error can provide incorrect information, and equipment malfunction can produce false readings. Do not rely on, or take action upon information presented on this web site or at SCCC activities, without further research. Views expressed in the pages, images, or tutorials on the SCCC Inc., web site or presented at venues, maybe the personal opinions of the relevant writers or presenters, and are not necessarily representative of those of SCCC Inc.