Solar power lowers water heating costs in new home builds Melbourne

Mark Bryson - Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Solar power is one of the most efficient ways to comply with state government energy efficiency regulations which were introduced in 2011. More than 95% of Berstan Homes’ clients choose a solar water heating system over a rainwater tank for toilet flushing when they build their new home.

The requirement to have one or the other is part of the 6 Star Standards which aligns to the Building Code of Australia’s national energy efficiency measures. The regulations also include a thermal performance assessment which determines the correct construction materials, window glazing, insulation and orientation of the house.

Using a gas or electricity powered hot water system when the house is unoccupied during the day means a lot of hot water is not used and wasted.

However, using the sun to heat the water means zero cost during the day and it is still warm in the evening.

Solar panels work even on cloudy days but for extended periods of cloud or rain, a gas-boosted hot water system installed alongside the solar power system to give instantaneous hot water when needed.

Solar water heating can reduce your hot water costs by more than 50%, depending on where you live. Sadly, Melbourne is considered a cold climate for solar heating, compared to Northern Territory and north Queensland, where solar water heating can reduce heating costs by up to 95%.

Berstan Homes use Rinnai flat plate split or pumped systems with instant gas boost. This means cold water is pumped up into the solar panels, heated by the sun and then stored in an outdoor cylinder until required.

It will heat as much water as possible when the sun is out and automatically boosts with gas when necessary.

Prices for solar water heating, which include a generous government rebate, cost around $3000 including installation. For a $600,000 new home build, this equates to just .5% of the total build.

Considering the long life of solar systems and the considerable savings each year, it’s no wonder Berstan Homes clients are saying yes to solar water heating.

Of course, new home builders also have the option to install solar photovoltaic panels which convert sunlight into electricity, when then heats water.

The most common type of solar photovoltaic (PV) system is grid-connected. Rooftop panels are installed with an inverter that converts solar power from DC (direct current) to AC (alternating current). Your home uses the solar system as its primary power source, relying on the grid as a back-up.

PV systems have the advantage of making more electricity than is needed, which can then be fed back into the grid.

If it’s a bright sunny day (so the system is generating electricity), but no one is at home (so energy consumption is low), you can gain financial returns for feeding the excess electricity back into the grid through feed-in tariffs.

Tariffs vary depending on your state government and electricity retailer, so it’s worth researching how much you can expect to receive when you’re deciding what system to buy.