1. If you have to make a choice, it is better to go with a solar power generation system than a hot water system. With my 1.5 kW system in Brisbane, I am able to cover the cost of our energy usage. We pay about $0.19 for normal tariff power and get $0.52 for any net power we export. The deals in NSW are much better than this at the moment (although likely to change soon as it is not sustainable). We use normal tariff electricity to heat our hot water, we use a pump every time the tap is turned on, and we treat all sewage on site (which requires power). Thus we generate about one unit of power during the day and consume about three units of power at night. The cost of my system was around $3000.
    Now to get a solar hot water system installed, it is far more costly and the energy saving benefits are not as good. At least that is case for my household as we do not use much hot water.
    So if you have to make a choice, install solar panels first. Then look at the solar hot water options second. Get yourself signed up to one of the government feed-in programs before they are closed!

    • @Jason: I absolutely agree, and that’s what I tell people. Given the very low tariff for off-peak electricity, and the very high feed-in tariff for solar electricity, the decision is pretty straightforward. The simplest thing most people can do to reduce their water heating bill is to turn down the thermostat on the system. When I did this, it reduced our off-peak electricity consumption from 15-16 kWh/day to 8 kWh/day. Just make sure it’s still at least 60 degrees inside the tank (modern systems are designed not to go below this temperature for health reasons).

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