Hot water heating is the single greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions from most Australian households, accounting for about 25% of all energy used in an average Australian home, and around 23% of greenhouse gas emissions1. This ranks even above air conditioning, the mass use of which has been known to cause rolling blackouts.
Electric storage hot water systems each produce in excess of four tonnes of greenhouse gas per year, which is roughly the amount emitted by an average sized family car2. Australian legislation has therefore ruled for a phase out of all electric storage systems. The aim of this is to reduce greenhouse gas output by around 30 million tonnes, stretching from 2010-2020. The phase out will have two main stages.
From 2010, electric water tank systems will no longer be able to be installed in:
- any new detached, terrace or town house
- any existing detached, terrace or town house where there is access to piped natural gas, except where an exemption applies.
From 2012, electric water tank systems will no longer be able to be installed in:
- any existing detached, terrace or town house, and
- any new flat or apartment with access to piped natural gas, except where an exemption applies.
The phase-out will apply to households in all states and territories except Tasmania.* Under the new rules, the systems that can legally be installed will include solar, gas and heat pump systems.
Existing hot water heaters
Existing systems will not be targeted by the phase out, so there is no need to rush out and purchase a new system to comply with this legislation. Be aware that if you do currently have one of these systems though, you may need to put some thought into what your options are when your existing system is due for replacement.
Certain exemptions apply on a state-by-state basis, so if you feel that none of these options are viable in your circumstances, see if you qualify for an exemption.
More information is available from www.climatechange.gov.au under the section entitled ‘Phase-out of greenhouse intensive hot water systems’.
1. 6.5 Hot Water Service - Your Home Technical Manual, Commonwealth of Australia 2008, as viewed on 9 November 2010.
2. Phase out of greenhouse intensive hot water systems - Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Commonwealth of Australia 2008, as viewed on 9 November 2010.