E3 QUESTION 3: HYDROTHERM HEAT PUMPS QUEENSLAND RESPONSE – Product Development & Market Place Education

What do you think are the key measures to ensure heat pump water heaters offer satisfactory performance to consumers on all relevant criteria?
Two key areas need to be addressed in a number of ways to ensure customer satisfaction and to meet market demand, these are product development and market place education.


What do you think are the key measures to ensure heat pump water heaters offer satisfactory performance to consumers on all relevant criteria?

The issue of consumer satisfaction in regards to heat pumps, needs to be addressed in terms of both product development and market place education. Principal design features have been discussed previously however, to recap some key points.

The use of electric boosters or poorly designed systems can lead to reduced energy savings, in comparison to TRYNS modeling and product promotional material. This can lead to negative consumer sentiment where household energy expenditure is not reduced in line with expectations. Therefore any promotional material should be monitored under ACCC legislation to ensure that companies are using scientific third party results to promote monetary or energy savings.

A far higher level of training and education needs to occur between manufactures and the plumbing industry at large, to ensure that plumbers promoting product have the minimum skill and knowledge base to do so effectively. Training on correct install procedures and tariff implications will also reduce the number and severity of product failures and poor performance issues in the market.

Timers need to be incorporated into product design to give households the options to run systems during the day or to prevent the frequency of system operation at high noise impact times post 10pm. While the need to ensure that products function within a maximum Db level, should also be part of the agenda. Even relatively low noise units would benefit from timer features.

Product durability is paramount. A consumer purchasing a heat pump water heater would be looking at a ten year or more system lifespan and would be making their decision based on the financial benefits over this period. Systems that fail before a reasonable life expectancy or require multiple services and repairs during the systems operational life will have greatly reduced financial benefits. Legislation should be developed around minimum warranty periods and further durability tests incorporated into either AS/NZS2712:2007 or AS/NZS5125:2010

Customer education is of paramount importance, as the products are different to the traditional electric and gas units. The noise and operation of heat pumps is different and customers need to be aware of these features and understand their relevance. E.g. Air Conditioner – noise is acceptable as they want to be cooler.   

By Simon Baird

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