Power-saving geyser with big financial benefits

South Africans looking to reduce their electricity consumption on water heating can buy a geyser with an Integrated Heat Pump (IHP) and start seeing a return on their investment in a year and a half.

Conventional electric water heaters — known as geysers in South Africa — are notoriously energy-intensive appliances, accounting for 40% to 60% of a household’s consumption.

Solar and gas geysers provide an alternative with more affordable running costs.

Heat pumps have become all the rage in recent years due to an increased focus on carbon emissions reduction and renewable self-generation, which can benefit from less demanding appliances.

The technology is nothing new. The first heat pump system was installed in 1850, while the first electric ground-source heat pump was invented in 1940.

Heat pump technology allows for heating and cooling air or water with substantially less power consumption.

The key to an IHP geyser is a rotary heat pump and a triple-layer insulated tank that makes and keeps the water hot.

One of the major suppliers of this type of geyser in South Africa — Power4Less — reckons its unit could save the average household around R28 per day per heating session.

A conventional 200ℓ electric geyser with a 3.5kW element could consume around 10.5kWh per day when heating water from ambient temperatures to 60°C.

The IHP geyser uses just 1.8kWh to achieve the same, which is around 83% less electricity. It can also keep the water warm for 48 hours.

With a power consumption of just 0.6kW, it carries an A+ energy efficiency rating in the European Union.

According to Power4Less, the technology used in this particular model was developed by a South African team. The geyser is now being mass-produced in China and Japan.

Power4Less IHP geyser. Credit: Power Solutions KZN

MyBroadband calculated how long it would take to pay off the initial cost of the geyser and start seeing a return on investment (RoI) on an IHP geyser.

While the starting upfront cost of a 200ℓ Power4Less IHP geyser is over three times that of a regular electric geyser, it is about the same as a 200ℓ solar geyser.

Its lower running cost compared to a regular electric geyser would make up the price difference in around a year and a half if you can afford to pay for it in cash.

For those who cannot, Nedbank offers a financing offer with a monthly premium of R880 and installation included.

With the much lower monthly cost of the electricity needed to power the IHP geyser, a household with 315kWh of geyser power usage in the City of Tshwane would effectively only be spending R31.16 more per month on both the geyser and electricity consumption.

Over the 36-month financing period, the total cost of the geyser is R31,680, while the running cost would be about R6,315, for a total effective amount of R37,995.

If you stuck with the same electric geyser, you would have paid R36,873 for electricity, not accounting for annual increases. That is just R1,121.76 less than when buying the geyser with interest on top.

After paying the geyser off, you will be able to make up that difference with less than two more months of usage. Therefore, the RoI period is still relatively short at just 38 months.

In addition to being more efficient, an IHP geyser also heats water faster and with lower peak draw — which is great for coupling with entry-level solar power systems.

The table below compares the power consumption, total energy usage, and once-off costs of an IHP and regular electric geyser

200-litre geyser prices
IHP geyser Electric geyser Difference
Power consumption 0.6kW 3.5kW 2.9kW
Daily heating session consumption 1.8kWh 10.5kWh 8.7kWh
Monthly power consumption 54kWh 315kWh 261kWh
kWh charge — City of Tshwane Block 2 R3.25 n/a
Monthly spend on water heating R175.41 R1,024.25 R848.84
Price (excluding installation) R23,999 R7,399 R16,600
Cash Financing via Nedbank
Estimated return-on-investment (RoI) period 19 months 38 months

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Power-saving geyser with big financial benefits