Costs & Payback

If your expectations are not realistic, you will be disappointed. Installation costs for hydronic heating involve an upfront initial capital outlay but low running costs.  Other kinds of heating can have large ongoing running costs.  So it can be hard to compare them.  Then there are the intangibles like the fact that radiant floor heating will make your home much more comfortable to live in.  How does one put a value on that?

And don’t forget the health aspects – how expensive is it to have an asthma attack? Looking at the long term, we believe hydronic heating can pay for itself particularly considering the environmental impact.


If you are building a house on a concrete slab you are are the perfect candidate for hydronic heating. Call us today on M. 0434 676 795 and we can give you a quote.

To give you some idea of costs, for a basic (gas booster only system) most installers will just look at the size of the house and multiply by their own favorite number, which might range between $50 and $90 per square metre. So if your house is 200 m2, you may expect to pay $10,000 or more.

Solar boosting adds a layer of costs on top of that – 90 tubes will cost upwards of $4,000, a tank approximately $4,000, plus additional pumps, controllers, labour and installation costs.

In summary, if you expect a system to be inexpensive, its time to rethink. On the other hand, a car can easily cost $60,000 and you might replace it every ten years, making the cost of ownership nearly $10,000 EACH YEAR! Plus it does very little other than get you from one place to another – not terribly good value compared to a state-of-the-art heating system that will make your house super-comfortable and last a lifetime.

Running Costs

The main ongoing cost in running a solar-boosted hydronic system is the cost of the non-solar heat source. It is unrealistic to expect the sun to warm your house when it is not shining, but if you are prepared to be a bit chilly for a few days each year, then forget the gas or electric booster and your running costs will be near zero.

The solar contribution towards heating your house can be expected to be from 10am till 5pm. A big tank can extend this period for 6 hours or more. Outside these times, and during periods of cloudy weather some boosting may be necessary. The amount of boosting will depend on how big the house is, how much thermal mass it has, how well it is oriented (north facing windows), and also of course how well it is insulated. The pumps used consume fairly small amounts of power, around 40W or so. All they need to do is move water around a circuit – they don’t need to compress water or anything like that. So the running cost of the pumps are fairly small.


As a rough estimate you could assume you will save 1/2 to 3/4 of your current heating bill. Assuming your heating bill over winter is currently $800, you will save around $600 each year.

Electricity costs have risen 33% in Canberra between 2008 and 2017, from 13.3c/kWhr to 17.60c/kWhr. We can also safely assume that the cost of energy will continue to increase in the coming years. A carbon tax is recognised as the most cost effective way to reduce carbon pollution and this will inevitably increase the cost of both electricity and gas. Costs are projected to double in the next decade – read Australia’s Renewable Energy Future by Dr Wright from the CSIRO. (see slide 21 ) You can insulate yourself from such increases by investing in a system that can make a major contribution towards heating your house in a non-carbon-polluting way.

Lets do some quick calculations:

90 solar evacuated tubes – 37.5kWh per day (Based on an average of 5 hours effective sunshine per day)

Heating for 200 days per year: 200 days x 37.5kwh per day = 7500 kwh

Avoided Cost for 200 days heating = 7500 x 17.60c/kWh = $1,320  (2010 ActewAGL)

The point to be made here is that a payback will eventually be achieved, and continue thereafter. Taken together with the intangibles of greater comfort, the case can be made that the system will pay for itself.

But I’m short of money

Building a house is expensive. A bank loan can kill you. My suggestion? Install the pipes before the concrete slab is poured, even if you have to wait for a year or two before completing the system.