…..and now heating water.
We don’t have piped gas in our street. Consequently, when the house was built, we had an electric hot water heater put in. It was on a controlled load, off-peak setting which meant that it turned on at midnight and off at 7 am. It used about 5 kWh of power per day, but we paid a lower rate for the power as it was off-peak.
Since putting on the solar PV system, I’ve had huge problems with the energy supplier regarding my power bills. To cut a long story short, solar generation has been counted as consumption and my first energy bill was twice what it should have been. I complained bitterly, refused to pay the bill and my account was put on hold for a month while they (supposedly) sorted it out. Luckily, I’ve been reading the meter daily and I know how much I’ve used and how much generated power has gone to the grid.
Yesterday I got an amended bill and it is still wrong. Solar generation is still being counted as consumption and it is appearing on that part of the meter which records off-peak hot water consumption.
While I was
talking complaining to my energy retailer she rang the energy provider and after all the to-ing and fro-ing, I was eventually told I couldn’t have off-peak hot water with solar PV. I think that’s wrong, because there are two circuits on the meter, one for peak and one for off-peak and it is possible to read them separately and bill them separately. Anyhow, it was no use arguing and I’m now being charged peak rates for off-peak hot water (heated at night).
Luckily I’d got a heating/cooling company in the previous week to give me a quote on an evaporative cooling system. I happened to mention my problems with the power company and he asked why I didn’t have a gas water heating system. Bottled gas, only for the hotplates, though. My last bottle of gas lasted 2 years; I use very little.
Had I considered instantaneous gas hot water? No, I hadn’t. Because of the bottled gas. Wouldn’t I use a lot more gas? No, not as much as you might think. In any case it’s cheaper than mains electricity, although more expensive than mains gas.
I Googled and found out more. In the discussion forums, people were wrapping up instantaneous gas hot water, on bottled gas. Two adults and one child used one 45 kg bottle of gas every 6 months for water heating and all cooking. I did the sums and if I got 12 months out of a bottle, I would still come out on top.
So I signed up and today they came and installed a Dux 16 litre/minute gas HWS. The old hot water service was disconnected and removed. Just let that stupid power company charge me for generation as off-peak hot water now.
So far it’s looking good. I can’t put my hand under the hot water coming out of the kitchen tap. I have a low-flow shower head. That might be a problem—if the flow rate gets too low, the gas cuts out and I’m shivering in cold water. The guys tried it out before they left and it seemed OK.
The unit uses a small amount of electricity. There’s no pilot light so ignition is electronic. There’s a pump of some sort, too. In any case it’s only while the hot water is turned on. And the power to it is connected to the solar circuit, so the solar panels will be powering it through the day.
One small step closer to coming off the grid. Next job is to actually get some quotes for a grid-free solar system (and start buying lottery tickets!)
Note: I could have put in a solar HWS, but it would have been more expensive, so I chose to see how this system goes.
Further note: For whatever reason (I haven’t checked yet, but think it’s to do with not using coal-fired electricity), I got a $500 government rebate off the full price.