Hot shower leaves many in hot water this winter season


Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — The ongoing winter season has turned up the heat on many people who are accustomed to a hot shower in the morning. The hike in power tariff, plumber charges and prices of equipment repair and replacement all have a direct impact on the overall cost of turning on the water heater at home.

Besides the cost factor, experts advise water heaters can also become a hazard to people in terms of safety.

A water heater consumes a significant amount of energy and shoots up the electricity bill during winter. With the increased tariff of the Saudi Electricity Company, for most low income people a hot bath has become an unaffordable luxury.

Adding to the woes, a large number of expatriate plumbers have left the country or are preparing to leave, making access to their services difficult and expensive. Those who are still working have raised the service charges exorbitantly because they too have to meet high living expenses and the newly introduced government fees and taxes.

Most of the plumbing shops that used to provide the plumber service are run by expatriates. They have increased the charges for repair and replacement of thermostats, which also costs higher now because of various reasons including the value-added tax.

“I need to spend a minimum of SR1,200 a month to keep my status legal and do my job as a plumber by visiting houses,” said an Egyptian plumber, a long-time resident of Jeddah, who did not want to be named.

“Water heating is a big component of electricity bill at homes in the winter season. Heating, like cooling requires a lot of energy. Most water heaters consume 1000 to 3000 watts of power, depending on size,” said an electrical engineer.

The most heaters available in the market have a default thermostat setting of 60 degrees or higher.

As much as water heaters are convenient, they are a potential hazard to people, according to Civil Defense officials.

They urged the public to take all precautions when operating water heaters.

They said heater mishaps could happen due to a combination of reasons, including the malfunctioning of the electric insulator that leads uncontrollable heating, the blockage or damage of the safety valve and lack of water in the reservoir. Old and corroded heaters may not bear the pressure as a result of excessive heat and could explode.

The officials advised people to keep the thermostat below 70 degrees for their own safety.