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Are you at risk from your hot water?

Are you at risk from your hot water?

Almost 40 percent of New Zealand homes have hot water that is dangerously hot, and nearly 10 percent have water so hot that burns are almost inevitable.

The figures come from the just-released Household Energy End-Use Project (HEEP) report prepared by the Building Research Association of New Zealand.

The internationally recognised study monitors all energy use (electricity, natural gas, LPG, solid fuel, solar water heating) in New Zealand households, as well as room temperatures.

Now in its seventh year, the project is collecting data from homes throughout New Zealand, from Kaikohe to Invercargill. Data collection from 400 houses will be complete in early 2005.

Project leader and BRANZ principal scientist, Nigel Isaacs, says each week in New Zealand, dangerously hot tap water leads to a child being admitted to hospital.

"HEEP is helping us to understand the reasons for the high temperatures and this, coupled with action to alleviate them, will lead to fewer injuries.'

The HEEP research reveals several factors that contribute to dangerously hot water in our homes. These include:

- inaccurate thermostats. Around 30 percent of thermostats on electric hot-water cylinders do not deliver water at anything like the value showing on the temperature dial.

- small hot-water cylinders. Many houses were originally fitted with small (30 gallon or 135 litre) cylinders that cannot deliver enough hot water at a safe temperature to meet the needs of the occupants. When these small cylinders break down, they are replaced with "like-for-like' products so the problem continues.

- lack of a delivered-water temperature control ("tempering' valve). Although these are a New Zealand Building Code requirement on all new cylinder installations, they are not mandatory on replacement cylinders.

Nigel Isaacs says the BRANZ household energy-use research will be used to help improve safety surrounding the use of hot water in New Zealand homes, as well as improving the energy efficiency.

Further material, including the report Executive Summary is available on BRANZ website


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