Solution for hot water winter blues


Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Over the winter months some Ashburton residents have noticed their hot water has a lower temperature or is not staying hot for long.

There are a number of reasons that hot water cylinders (HWC) run out of hot water, including being undersized - and unable to supply the household needs of big families.

People spending too long in the shower or bath which uses more of the available hot water and it needs time to recharge.

The cylinder is faulty - the element is not working effectively or leaks, it drains hot water limiting the available amount, and when its not insulated it loses heat quickly when it is cold.

When there are no issues with the usage and size of the HWC but there is still less available hot water, it can be a result of network companies like EA Networks ‘controlling load’.

EA Networks general manager, customer and commercial Jeremy Adamson described controlling load as controlling energy to HWCs that are connected to the ‘controlled’ circuit on the switchboard.

"Effectively we turn-off supply to those circuits using ‘ripple control’, basically a signal sent down the line to a ‘ripple receiver’ that switches off/on depending on the signal."

Customers can choose to be on controlled or uncontrolled circuits, with power providers charging less for controlled connections since they provide flexibility to allow them to control peak energy demand.

"Generally speaking, we won’t control energy for longer than it takes for a HWC to recharge," Jeremy said.

"But if factors are present like the element is undersized or the cylinder is too small then there could be problems with the HWC having to ‘recharge’ (get hot again) once we stop controlling."

EA Networks' control energy to reduce peak demand which allows them to build a more efficient power network, which in turn reduces the cost of the network in terms of delivery charges.

Jeremy said unfortunately load control can coincide with very cold weather, as that is when the most energy is being used to heat homes/business and ‘peaks’ occur.

"If we didn’t have load control then our networks across the country would be larger and more expensive to build, making delivery charges higher.

"Ultimately, it comes down to customer choice, if people want to avoid the chance of ever having a cold shower then they can move from controlled to uncontrolled energy supply – their electrician can do this for them.

"It will cost them more in their monthly power bill though," he said.

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