Hot water system requirements
The mandatory requirements to install energy efficient (gas, solar or heat pump) hot water systems in all new houses and in an existing house located in a gas reticulated area at time of replacement were repealed on 1 February 2013. Homeowners are now able to choose a hot water system that best suits their circumstances, including an electric system.
The Queensland Plumbing and Wastewater Code was amended to remove the requirement to install an energy efficient hot water system.
The Queensland Development Mandatory Part 4.1 - Sustainable buildings was also amended to reflect greater choice to homeowners for their hot water system.
Building development applications lodged for the construction of new class 1 buildings (houses, townhouses, terrace houses and villas) in Queensland before 1 February 2013 may still be required to comply with the requirements in force prior to 1 February 2013. However, if the building certifier has not issued a final certificate for the home, owners can apply to their building certifier to vary the approval to include an electric hot water system. This may be practical in situations where the hot water system has not yet been installed.
Building owners who have entered into contracts that include an energy efficient hot water system should talk to their builder as soon as possible if they want to change the type of system installed. For example, where the hot water system has not yet been supplied the owner and the builder may wish to negotiate a variation to the building contract. However, this is a contractual matter and it is entirely up to the parties on how they wish proceed.
Hot water system laws pre February 2013
Between 1 March 2006 and 31 January 2013, owners of new houses and townhouses were required to install an energy efficient hot water system.
Between 1 January 2010 and 31 January 2013, owners of existing houses and townhouses located in a reticulated natural gas area were required to install an energy efficient system when their existing electric hot water system needed replacing.
Where an existing electric hot water system in a gas reticulation area was damaged by a natural disaster event replacement with another electric system was permitted. A licensed plumber was required to certify that the electric hot water system was damaged by a natural disaster.
In hot water storage systems for residential buildings, hot water must be heated to a minimum of 60° Celsius to prevent the growth of bacteria such as Legionella.
A tempering device ensures that hot water is delivered to taps at a maximum 50° Celsius. This temperature is considered sufficient for domestic hygiene purposes and effectively reduces the risk of scalding-related injuries from hot water use.
A tempering device is required to be fitted to all new and replacement hot water systems. They can be identified by a blue, green, orange (solar systems) or black plastic cap fitted as part of the system’s piping.
Solar and heat pump endorsement
From 1 January 2012, solar hot water and heat pump hot water systems must be installed by a hot water installer with a solar and heat pump endorsement from the Plumbing Industry Council.