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New Zealand Plumbers, Drainlayers & Gasfitters Association Inc

New Zealand Plumbers, Drainlayers & Gasfitters
Association Inc

Latest News / Half of hot water cylinders tested not up to scratch: EECA

Half of hot water cylinders tested not up to scratch: EECA

7th October 2020 – STUFF

An inefficient hot water cylinder could cost a consumer more than $1200 over its lifespan, EECA estimates. 

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority is exercising a rarely used power to prosecute a hot water cylinder manufacturer over energy efficiency standards. 

The authority tested 12 models of electric hot water cylinders sold in New Zealand and found half of them failed the efficiency standards enshrined in law.

This did not mean the cylinders were unsafe, as safety testing was the responsibility of other agencies, EECA said. But a number did not meet manufacturers’ claims.

The tests have already prompted the withdrawal of four models from sale, and EECA has filed legal action against one manufacturer which it would not name until the matter came to court.

It said another manufacturer or supplier was still being investigated.

EECA chief executive Andrew Caseley said, given 60,000 cylinders were sold in New Zealand each year, it seemed important to put the results up on its website.

‘’We were taken aback by the level that weren’t meeting the requirements and so we’re making this publicly known because we think it’s important that once tested, that people are aware of the results.

‘’But also we’re going to be quite firm with the industry about hey guys, you’ve got to lift your game here.’’

He said the penalties were not ‘’huge,’’ but for suppliers, their reputation in the market was probably of more concern.

EECA’s website shows two models are under investigation: a 300 litre model by Christchurch company Superheat and a 176 litre model by Thermann.

Superheat declined to comment while the investigation was under way.

A spokesman for Reece Group, which distributes Thermann in New Zealand, said the company believed the product now met New Zealand regulations, ‘’following the incorporation of insulation as part of the packaging, as per the installation instructions’’.

Caseley said energy efficiency was especially important for hot water cylinders.

‘’Hot water represents on average about 30 per cent of a household’s electricity usage so it’s significant.’’

EECA’s Andrew Caseley says a lack of energy efficiency in hot water cylinders can be hard on the pocket. 

That meant consumers were spending $600 on hot water a year. EECA estimates that at current energy prices, failure to meet the standard could cost a household up to $1240 over the cylinder’s life, about 20 years.

It was quite hard for consumers to make a choice over cylinders, which were often installed in emergency situations, Caseley said.

‘’But for the plumbing industry, I think they very much have a part to play in this in being confident about where they are getting their cylinders from, that they do meet the standards, and that they might even periodically ask the manufacturers for evidence of that.’’

Greg Wallace, chief executive of Master Plumbers, said he had yet to meet with EECA.

But he said plumbers often encountered pressure from customers, who had sometimes already bought a non-compliant product.

‘’Our recommendation is you can’t install something that doesn't comply, but it’s not always an easy conversation.’’

Nevertheless, the EECA results were concerning. It meant ‘’consumers are throwing dollars out the door. The standards are put in place for good reason.’’

Unlike many plumbing products, about 70 per cent of hot water cylinder models on the New Zealand market are made locally. There are 15 brands, of which EECA’s tests covered nine.

EECA’s prosecution is unusual but the authority does frequently test appliances for their energy effectiveness.

It tested fluorescent lights this year, and periodically tested other appliances including heat pumps, fridges, computer screens, washing machines and driers.

There were plenty of easy energy savings that could be made, but people needed encouragement to do it., Caseley said.

‘’I think there is a greater awareness of it – and interestingly enough the regulations we have in place are the most effective means by which we have achieved for savings for consumers – and the benefits that accrue both on a household level, a commercial-business level and even increasingly on the carbon emissions side as well.’’

He advised homeowners who had a model that had failed testing to contact the manufacturer.

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