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Do You Have a Heat Pump Water Heater Yet?

Infograph of the anatomy of a heat pumpHeat pump water heaters are relatively new to the market and are designed to be more efficient by using heat pump technology as the primary source of water heating, with traditional element heating as a backup. Water heaters equipped with this new technology are becoming more and more popular.

In fact, the government has mandated any residential electric water heater over 50 gallons to be produced with this technology. Most customers experience substantial savings at the expense to heat water if the unit is installed in the proper application.

How Does a Heat Pump Water Heater Work?

Heat pumps remove heat from the air and transfer it into water. It’s the same type of technology that a refrigerator uses with a small compressor, but these new heat pump water heaters work in reverse of a refrigerator. This newer technology uses electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly. It can be two-to-three times more energy-efficient than conventional electric resistance water heaters. A heat pump water heater is also known as a hybrid water heater because it is equipped with extra electric heating units.

Here Are a Few Features of Heat Pump Water Heaters:

  • They accomplish the same thing a regular water heater does – heating water.
  • The benefit is that the heat pump is more efficient in operation than normal heating elements that standard electric water heaters contain.
  • They require installation in areas that remain in the 40-to-90-degree (Fahrenheit) range year-round.
  • They will not operate efficiently in a cold space.
  • They tend to cool the spaces they are in.
  • They remove heat from the air.
  • They typically have higher initial costs than conventional storage water heaters, but have lower operating costs, offsetting higher purchase and installation prices.

photo of a heat pumpWhat Are the Advantages and the Disadvantages of a Heat Pump Water Heater?

The main advantage is the cost savings to heat water. The rate of hot water production is the same as a regular electric water heater. The efficiency rating of a heat pump water heater is 2.9 versus .95 for a regular unit. Most heat pump water heaters come with a 10-year warranty.

Space is the biggest disadvantage. The unit is larger (taller) in size, and it is required to be installed in a room 10’ x 10’ x 7’ for proper operation. If that amount of space isn’t available, an outdoor air intake/output kit is required to get more air to and from the unit. The cost to repair is higher, too.

When selecting a heat pump water heater, what factors should you consider before buying a new system?
You should consider:

  • Size and first-hour rating
  • Fuel type and availability
  • Energy efficiency
  • Overall cost

Proper installation and maintenance of a heat pump water heating system can optimize energy efficiency. It’s always best to have a qualified plumbing and heating contractor to install the system.

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