The phase out of Electric Hot Water Systems across Australia is one of the most topical points of debate within the plumbing industry. Plumbers are unaware of the repercussions for breaking the rules and by the lack of enforcenemnt of the rules which has delayed the phase out and initiated reviews of the scheme.

The phase out of the energy intensive hot water systems began in 2010 with phase 1 being implemented, which was all new class 1 dwellings require an energy efficient HWS. This has been applied across the board with relative success. There are however issues with the majority of installers opting for the cheapest units that are accompanied by very expensive annual running costs, that are passed onto the end user, however this will be tackled later. The second phase is where the issues arise and the confusion begins.

Phase 2 of the electric phase out, states that all class 1 dwellings located in reticulated gas areas must replace failed heaters with an energy efficient system. However, this is not the case with many electric systems being replaced like for like. We have identified a key factor influencing this behaviour: Uncertainty created by the current framework and lack of enforcement of phase 2 The second phase focused on all class 1 dwellings with failing HWS, stating that they must be replaced with an energy efficient unit. However, limited governance of the replacement market has resulted in the re-emergence of electric hot water systems. The rebates have been cut, making the once appealing and affordable solar option a treat for the wealthy. This has forced the public’s hand into looking for cheap, upfront cost alternatives that bring with them a crippling annual running cost. This also means that plumbers are forced into replacing like for like or else they lose customers. There is currently no incentive or enforced law for plumbers to push an energy efficient product such as a heat pump, if the customer is asking for an electric and no one is prepared to enforce the legislation it is the easy solution to install one. Even with a majority of the plumbers attempting to follow the legislation, they are losing out on business to plumbers that are prepared to install electrics. Through this the public will suffer due to the rising costs of electricity and a unit that may be installed for up to 15 years could result in bills for thousands of dollars.  

The governing bodies are making forward steps with the introduction of the new minor works from the 1st November that will help monitor the replacement of hot water systems with greater vigour. This step forward needs to be followed and implemented to ensure the energy intensive units are phased out. The industry can also help by educating the public with regards the products available and the repercussions of purchasing an energy intensive unit. The energy efficient systems are becoming more affordable and with the availaibility of STC’s there are units that are competing on price and quality. These small changes to the industries setup will benefit thousands of QLD households in the future, but the changes need to be made now.  

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Please read this article on the basic electric phase guidelines:

http://www.climatechange.gov.au/what-you-need-to-know/appliances-and-equipment/hot-water-systems/phase-out.aspx

 

By Simon Baird 

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