Choosing and buying a water heater

Heating water for showers, baths and washing accounts for 25 percent of the energy used in an average home, so choosing the best water heater for your needs is a smart way to save energy.

Water heaters last for many years, so consider the ongoing running costs as well as the purchase price when making your decision. The lifetime costs section on this page gives the costs for different types of water heaters based on how much water is used in the home, and can be used as a guide to help your decision. Choosing an efficient model, with lower running costs, could save you money overall.

If your water heater has broken down and you need hot water urgently, you may be able to loan a temporary water heater from your energy retailer or a plumber, giving you time to choose a water heater that's right for you and shop around for the best deal.

Water heaters that can be installed in South Australian homes

South Australia has water heater installation requirements which may affect the type of water heater you can install.

Choosing the best water heater for your needs

Choosing a water heater video

The choices you make when purchasing a new water heater can save you money and save on energy used in your home.

Which fuel is best – electricity, gas or solar?

When considering a new or replacement water heater, compare the different types of water heaters available including gas, solar and electric options. You may be able to save money by changing fuel sources, for example, even if your home is all-electric, connecting to gas may be an option, especially if you want to use gas for heating and cooking as well as water heating.

What size do you need?

To minimise your energy costs, select a water heater that is the right size for your needs. A water heater that is too large will waste energy heating water that you don't use, while a water heater that is too small may run out of hot water.

How much hot water you need will depend on how many people live in your home and whether this will increase, the length and number of showers and baths they take each day and how many appliances you have that use hot water.

A manufacturer or supplier can advise you about the right size for the type of water heater you are considering. You can reduce the size of the water heater you need and also reduce your water and energy costs by becoming water efficient.

How much will a water heater cost?

Water heaters last for many years, so it is important to consider the ongoing running costs as well as the purchase price when you choose a new water heater.

While some efficient models may have higher purchase costs, they may have lower running costs and save you money overall. You may also be able to pay for your new water heater in instalments, meaning you have to find less up front, see Assistance with purchase costs.

Interactive water heater calculator

Use our Water heater calculator to find the most appropriate type of water heater for your home. The calculator helps you compare up-front costs, annual running costs, life cycle costs and greenhouse gas emissions produced by different types of heaters.

For more information on how the different types of water heaters work, see Types of water heaters.

Before you buy

Before you purchase a water heater:

  • Look at consumer reviews and guides.
  • Shop around and obtain at least three quotes to compare your options.
  • Look for special offers for water heaters or gas connections if you are considering connecting to gas, and see if there are any term payment offers which could lower the upfront costs you need to pay for your water heater.
  • Consider the value of Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) which can lower the cost of installing solar and heat pump water heaters. 

Assistance with purchase costs

Repayment plans with your water heater supplier

Ask your water heater supplier if they offer any repayment plans that suit your needs.

Some suppliers offer finance options where you can purchase and install your water heater now and make payments towards it over time. This can help you manage the initial capital cost of the water heater and also allow you to consider alternative water heaters that were not possible before.

Small-scale Technology Certificates

Eligible solar and electric heat pump water heaters also entitle you to Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs). STCs can be used to receive a discount when you buy your water heater or sold at a later time. For more information see Small-scale Technology Certificates.

No interest loan scheme (NILS)

If you would like to purchase an energy efficient water heater but the initial purchase and installation cost is a problem, you may be eligible for an interest and fee free loans through the no interest loan scheme (NILS).

NILS provides interest and fee free loans for individuals, families or couples living on a low income. NILS is a community-based initiative that enables people to access fair, safe and equitable credit for the purchase of goods and services.

For more information see NILS South Australian Network or contact the South Australian NILS administrator on 8202 5187. 

Safety check when buying

A number of potential hazards can exist with any type of hot water system and it is important to ensure your water heater is correctly installed and maintained.

  • Use only licensed installers. All plumbing, gas fitting and electrical work must be performed by an appropriately licensed person. This may require more than one person in the case of a water heater installation (eg an electric water heater may require an electrician and a plumber). Check if your installer(s) is appropriately licensed in South Australia or find a licensed installer by searching the Consumer and Business Services' licensing public register.
  • Be sure you receive a certificate of compliance that covers each part of the completed water heater installation (ie plumbing, gas fitting and electrical). A certificate of compliance is the installer's certification that the installation has been tested and complies with the relevant safety standards.
  • Keep the area around gas water heaters and flue systems clean and free of combustible materials, aerosol cans and chemicals. It is also important to ensure the flow of air around gas water heaters is not obstructed

Related information

On this site

Using a licensed electrician and electrical certificates of compliance
Using a licensed gas fitter and gas certificates of compliance
Plumbing certificates of compliance

Other websites

Hot water service - Your Home Guide, Australian Government


Environment Protection (Noise) Policy 2007

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Page last updated: 16 March 2016