With the average family of four taking 1,460 baths or showers a year, running out of hot water is a disaster best avoided.
But what is the best way to make sure you stay in hot water? Combi boiler or hot water storage cylinder? Stuart Elsy from the Hot Water Association, looks at six reasons why a hot water cylinder could work for your home:
1. Hot Water on Tap and Across Your Home
Kitchens and bathrooms sell houses, and according to estate agents the perfect ratio of bathrooms to bedrooms is two bathrooms to every three bedrooms; meaning a 5-bedroom property should have over three bathrooms in place. Yet what if you want to run all of these showers or baths at the same time?
Being able to supply multiple outlets is possibly the biggest benefit of choosing a cylinder-based hot water system,” says Stuart, “and makes them perfectly suited for properties with more than one bathroom or if you plan to add more in the long term.
Designed to supply larger volumes to many outlets means, given an adequate supply pressure, you can run multiple showers simultaneously whilst opening a tap elsewhere in the house, all without effect on the running of the system. Ideal for busy households where you or teens may want to use more than one shower at any one time!
2. Boost Your Pressure
If you live in one of the many homes across the UK which suffer from low water pressure, a combi boiler may not even be an option. Gravity-fed or open vent storage systems, which have a cold-water storage tank in the loft to feed the hot water tank and are linked to a regular or system boiler will help provide water where others can’t.
3. Improve Efficiency and Make Savings
Rather than the old jacket-clad tank which may spring to mind, today’s cylinders are highly insulated, efficient and are available in a variety of sizes from 50 to 500 litres to suit your space and property. It is best to ask your installer who can advise on the right size cylinder for your needs but you may expect a 170 litre indirectly heated cylinder to suit a family of four quite adequately.
When deciding which cylinder to buy, it is best to look at the energy efficiency label which will provide a rating for the cylinder similar to those already seen on fridges and washing machines. New regulations make C the mandatory minimum, but B or A is obviously better. A fast re-heat time of 20 – 30 minutes is also an advantage. This data will be supplied by the manufacturer so aren’t as difficult to find and compare as you may think, so it is worth taking the time to look.
4. Make a New Start in a New Location
One of the most common misconceptions is that a cylinder needs to sit in exactly the same place as the previous one. With today’s cylinders boasting much improved insulation from the old style ‘tank and jacket’ combinations, it opens up the opportunities to move the cylinder and open up space dramatically.
If suitably protected from extreme cold temperature, the garage or loft are just some of the options available to rehome a cylinder and possibility free up the old airing cupboard space for use as a shower, walk-in wardrobe or even to reinstate extra storage for bulky items such as towels, bedding or coats.
Similarly, if you currently have a vented heating and hot water system with water tanks in the loft, you have the option to change to an unvented hot water cylinder and a heating system under a sealed primary water system arrangement which take their water straight from the mains and accommodate the expansion of water within the products. Not only will this do away with the need for water tanks cluttering your loft space and the worry associated with open water storage, but may also boost the pressure of your system.
5. Rule Renewables In
As demand on our energy supply continues to grow, the need to incorporate renewable technology into our homes remains on the cards. Opting for a solar thermal solar panel set up can supply up to 60% of your hot water across the year, even in our not so sunny climate. Here the panels will do the hard work to harness energy from the sun and turn this into usable energy, but you still need to store the heated water ready for use.
In this case you will need to opt for a twin coil cylinder. This will allow the water to be heated using solar gain where possible, or topped up with boiler or heat pump heated water when required. It is best to go for this option if you think you may decide on solar thermal in the future even if it is not an option straight away, as you’ll only need to make the change once in the long run.
6. Easy to Update
If remaining with the same type of system as already exists – either vented or unvented – an update need not require much work. Some changes to the pipework layout may be necessary depending on the connection positions on the new cylinder. Upgrading the system controls, for example the programmer, would also give system efficiency improvements and the new cylinder itself will almost certainly be more efficient than the old due to improved insulation levels.
Changing from a vented to an unvented system will involve more work, but will give the benefit of removing the cold-water feed cistern from the loft space and usually improving the hot water pressure available. This allows a greater variety of terminal fittings to be chosen and the ability to run multiple outlets at once. The Unvented system may also be quieter, due to the loft space tank filling noise being eliminated.
After installing a new cylinder in a system, it is always recommended that the connecting pipework is checked for leaks when the water supply is switched on. This is particularly important in older properties and where existing pipework has been disturbed during installation.