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Is it possible to install an instant water heater in my French house?

You have several options to choose from depending on where your house was built and what your annual water consumption is 

RE 2020 building regulations aims to make houses more ecologically friendly Pic: Rashevskyi Viacheslav / Shutterstock

Reader question: I would like to replace our dying hot water cylinder with an on-demand instant water heater. However, our contractor says they do not exist. As it is a holiday home, I do not want hot water sitting unused for months at a time. They are really common in other countries. Can you advise?

The simple answer is to change your plumber – instant water heaters do exist in France and are popular. A quick search for ‘chauffe-eau instantané électrique’ will turn up dozens of models, including from large DIY stores. Installation is usually quick and painless.

There might be some confusion in your plumber’s mind over the reach of the RE 2020 building regulations, which came into force this year. 

Their goal is to make houses more ecologically friendly. This means you now need special permission to fit a gas boiler and, according to some experts, electric heating will also be banned, other than heat pumps.

However, the RE 2020 rules apply only to new-build houses, so there does not seem to be any reason why you cannot install electric instant hot water systems in your home. 

Per litre of hot water, they use more electricity than a conventional system, but in your case the overall annual consumption will probably be lower.

A possible alternative is a new conventional hot water system, with a switch that can be turned on and off by a smartphone app. That way, you can start heating the water when you cross the Channel and it should be hot when you arrive.  

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