NSW Upgrade your hot water system under the Energy Security Safeguard scheme: shonky!

I’m keen to get rid of my instantaneous gas hot water system and upgrade to an electric heat pump system that I can power from my existing solar panels. I’ve worked my way through the NSW Government Energy Security Safeguard web pages to find out what sort of rebates are on offer. The website instructions begin: 1. Contact approved suppliers. 2. Choose a hot water system that best suits your needs…

In my region of NSW there are 8 approved suppliers listed. I’ve called all of them. Two don’t seem to exist, one doesn’t do gas conversions, and one doesn’t do residential. Of the remaining 4, all only deal with heat pump systems that have very poor reviews and incredibly short warranties (usually 2 years for the heat pump and 5 years for the tank). This seems incredibly shonky. Surely a hot water system should be reasonably expected to work for more than 2 years!

An additional twist is that I want it to be a split system so the tank is in an optimised location relative to where hot water is used most frequently in my house. The approved suppliers only want to replace the existing system with something else in the same location. At my house I currently waste 3L of water every time I want hot water at the kitchen sink. It would be such a missed opportunity to perpetuate this waste of energy and water.

It’s pretty clear the providers are just there for the quick subsidy money with no regard to actually improving household energy efficiency into the future. By constraining customers to just these 4 approved providers, the ESS actively deters people from selecting a good quality system with a decent warranty, or optimising the tank location to reduce water wastage. And we’re collectively paying for this to happen!


I have found the ‘approved operators’ business plan is bait and switch as often as not for anything excepting basic products like LEDs and so on.

In Victoria one could get taxpayer funded efficient shower heads that while not swish were good quality Methvens, CFLs in the first pass later replaced by retrofit style basic non-dimmable LEDs but as with your experience the reports from people getting solar anything through our program have been widely varied, and anecdotally like your own where the ‘free’ or ‘come on’ borders on rubbish unless one upgrades and pays to do so.

The approved part is to try to keep the dodgy businesses away, but as you opine your ESS has fallen well short of good record keeping at best, or doing proper vetting at worst.


And all of this is why, in spite of my desire to “do the right thing” I’ve decided to stick with gas for hot water. I’ve looked at a number of options and really they arent options for someone under financial challenges.


If you can wait 10 years the price of gas might come down, or at least stop going up.

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ROFL, I should be long gone by then.

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Often approved suppliers on government programs get on the panel of providers by being able tick boxes. It isn’t about providing good quality products or services, or being reliable or trustworthy. The later is why many of these programs end up giving participants headaches or programs are closed early.

We joined a government scheme to get solar HW in Brisbane. Because of problems with the scheme, it was shutdown immediately after we paid a deposit - about a week after the scheme commenced. We eventually had a SH water system installed after delays and argy-bargy with the government’s program team. While the SH water system quality was reasonable, the contractor were rough and ready, and not someone I would usually engage.

We have decided never to install something under a government scheme unless we can choose who to engage from our own investigations, and the product/service we want (rather than one specified under the program or by the contractor/tradie). We believe that those who end up on government lists are those chasing work - chasing work at times when good contractors/tradies are flat out. It raises the question of why they need to chase work.

Government programs deliver cookie cutters/one size fits all type approach. Standardised product and services irrespective of whether they are the optimum solution for the install location. Those who join these programs must accept what is being offered.

Going alone may also be better to get a product/service which better meets ones needs and is cheaper in the long term.

In relation to your own situation, have you considered a solar hot water that boosts in the mid to late afternoon (when PV generation covers boosting and before even peak tariffs commence)? The SH water system could be installed on a northerly/easterly/north easterly roof to maximise solar heating before afternoon boosting.


I’ve since deposited the flyer that arrived here last week into the paper recycling, now buried deep, but it was a deal where you traded your gas HWS for their heat pump for a total cost of $248.
I didn’t really look past that as it is irrelevant, having been on unboosted solar hot water for decades, which costs nothing to run.


Yeah there’s alway something on a flyer or in an ad. I’m so cynical these days I just assume they are scams and I pay little attention. I should look to the NSW and Fed governments for something, because my current gas HWS is 20 yrs old and the tank is bound to crap itself sooner rather than later :slight_smile:


You may be lucky if it has a stainless steel hot water storage tank/cylinder. A replacement like for like even with a less expensive enamel (glass) lined tank is likely to cost around $1500-$2000 installed. More likely the higher if one needs a next day replacement, such is the way of the larger trade businesses which have the staff capacity to meet such demands.

The following link you may have found.

It’s unclear how great the true value of the NSW subsidy is or the expected final out of pocket to the consumer? It appears one needs to ask for quotes. Nothing ventured it’s difficult to know what the outcome might be. Perhaps it’s a deliberate strategy to encourage enquires?

I was a little surprised to read quotes could be offered over the phone without a site visit. Perhaps these have conditions attached with assumptions as to how the site is. The difficulty of determining the cost of installing electrical power to the new heat pump HWS would be one such concern.

The gamble ahead is whether the NSW Govt will see any benefit in the future of subsidising conversion to all electric. Similar concerns would apply in other jurisdictions.


3 years ago an Aquamax 390SS was $1,700 all up in Eltham, currently about $2,000. There are small and less expensive name branded NG options down to about the $1,200 mark installed in metro Melbourne.

FWIW the 5 energy star 390SS was considered ‘efficient’ and thus not eligible for the government subsidised upgrades until July 2023 when all the gas storage systems were dropped in favour of heat pump and solar-electric units. Resistance is futile.


I dunno, Mark, the list of suppliers are companies I never heard of before except for Cyanenergy (sp!) who advertises on facebook from time to time. You’d think they would be relatively well known companies doing the work. Or maybe they jumped on being a part of it because they werent getting much work.

Either way I’m not in because my postcode is not listed as one that is eligible. Newcastle is not considered regional at times like this.


I’m on the NSW South Coast and asked four trade opinions and my electricity supplier about changing an old electric HWS for a heat pump. There was not much enthusiasm for the value and reliability of heat pumps and the estimates from a solar supplier suggested that a minimum 3.5kW capacity system is needed to provide hot water to the existing HWS. In my specific situation, the most economical option would seem to be to take my HWS off the special rate which keeps it hot all the time for a little more than the off-peak rate and install a diverter switch to heat the HWS from solar, topping up during long spells of rainy weather by switching the HWS onto grid power manually at night. All of this might save me about $100 a year on my present billing, so I’m not very motivated to dwell on it.


I have had big concerns with the companies doing this work. They often use offshore call centres. Seems to be another PINK Batt rerun. Does anyone monitor these comments. What happens to then so they get raised to government. I have called Service NSW and Services Australia and they are useless.