How I got into (electric) hot water

Dan Forrestal
Written by
Dan Forrestal
Momentum Energy Creative Director

In the middle of last year, my partner and I took the plunge – we were fortunate enough to buy a house. I say fortunate because it’s obviously hard to get into the housing market these days and because I’m about to list some complaints and don’t want to seem like a whinger. Just a partial whinger.

The house wasn’t a total fixer-upper but it did need a range of work done - full paint job, new carpet, dishwasher, lighting, some plumbing - and that was just the tip of the renovation rescue iceberg.

One outstanding job was the most urgent – the old gas hot water system.

Our tank had been part of the house since day one. Old? This thing could feature on Antiques Roadshow. You can imagine the brand’s endorsee, Kevin Sheedy, was still an apprentice plumber back when it was installed. Needless to say, it’d seen better days.

My situation

We’re a regular Brady Bunch. Between us, we have four school-age kids (too many!). With kids hitting teen years and various sporting activities in the mix, our showers get a good workout all week. Being without hot water is not an option.

The fear was if the old gas system gave up the ghost, we might be without hot water for a week if we were trying to arrange an electric conversion at short notice. So, we wanted to make the move before emergency struck.

We knew that gas wasn’t what we wanted to do again. Replacing a gas appliance with the same again means locking in fossil fuel use for another 20 years, and by going electric we could take advantage of more renewables entering the grid in the coming decades.

So, what did we do?

Choosing a system

Deciding was much like choosing any large appliance - Gather options, check reviews, search for any flaws. The process is clouded right now because of many offers in the market cashing in on the current government rebates. These can amount to your out-of-pocket costs ranging from next to nothing to $2000. We scoured the My Efficient Electric Home Facebook group, which was a source of advice from people who’d done the conversion. Most people suggested these offers that seemed too good to be true were just that – cheap imports that wouldn’t last. We also read lots of reviews (my partner is a big advocate for to uncover any drawbacks.

We decided to go for a higher end heat pump made by Reclaim. Our choice was made based on quality, reputation and considering that over the next 20 years the extra upfront cost would be lost in the mists of time. We considered the optional wi-fi controller but decided we’d be more likely to set and forget, rather than adjust our heating times constantly (as fun as that sounds).

Other considerations were size, shape and tank material. We chose 315L to cover our family of six – the previous system was 130L and it’s unbelievable it lasted as long as it did.

There was the choice to pick a ceramic tank (for locations with harder water with more mineral content) or a stainless-steel tank. Melbourne water is pretty decent, so we went with stainless steel. We could also choose from a long, tall tank or a short squat shape. We weren’t limited for space, so we chose the “long, tall” for its svelte figure.

Hot water systems
Left: Someone alert Antiques Roadshow. Right: The svelte-looking new system.

Choosing an installer

There were two installers around who had the heat pump (thanks, Google search). We got quotes by sending pictures of our current system. One installer called me constantly and came on a little strong for my liking. The other was less desperate and needy. (it seems what works in dating, works well in heat pumps.) The second mob also based closer to us and had good reviews from recent installs, so we accepted their quote.

The installation

Once we accepted and paid a deposit, things moved fast. There is some electrical work that needs to be set up before the installation. The sparkies were in the area and came the same day to run the cable and setup an electrical outlet. This took a couple of hours. The next day the installers put down a concrete slab and got the system wired up in about three hours. I was impressed with how fast it happened from when we decided to pull the trigger.


The installer took care of the rebates, we just signed a couple of documents. All up the state government covered about $1000 and there’s also an extra $900 available if your household income doesn’t exceed a certain threshold. And if you’re tempted by those sorts of incentives, perhaps take a look into Momentum Energy’s offer in partnership with Goodbye Gas. If you’re a Momentum gas customer based in Victoria and you buy any product from Goodbye Gas through Momentum, like a heat pump, and decide to remove your gas meter, Momentum will cover the gas abolishment fee. The fee of up to $242 (including GST) will be credited to your final gas bill.

“Come on in, the water’s fine.”

One of the concerns about a heat pump is whether it can be effective in a colder climate. I will say that we now set our taps to a hotter setting than our old gas system, but there’s more than enough heat to get it where even the hottest shower-taker can find their setting. And while we haven’t been through a frosty Melbourne winter yet, I’m confident we won’t struggle to have enough hot water.

There was a slight hiccup in the early days – we ran out of hot water! Now, before you scream “This wouldn’t happen with gas!”, there were some extenuating circumstances. We had set the system to the most energy conserving setting (Program #4 – which heats during the day take advantage of rooftop solar generation). Our mistake was trying this on a day when all six of us were at home plus running several loads of washing. But even reaching its capacity, the tank heated up again very quickly when called into action, and a switch back to another setting gives us a little more wriggle room and it hasn’t been an issue again.

Ups and downs

The process of going from gas to electric is easy, as long as you can meet the initial cost, which isn’t much more than replacing any existing gas system.

Since the installation we’ve instantly seen our gas usage go down and our electricity usage go up (but the new system must be way more efficient than its predecessor). So, we’re expecting to see some savings, and maybe we can pump it back into fixing that death trap of a back deck.