Ask the energy advisor

What did I miss?

Posted on Nov 04 2020 in Noble REMC
Brian Hawk
Energy Advisor

As we wrap up the second year of this column, I found myself looking over past articles to see what “game changer” I may have missed when it comes to lowering your electric bill without breaking the bank. 

Then it hit me! I completely forgot to write about heat pump water heaters. 

A heat pump, also known as a hybrid water heater, utilizes two older technologies to create a new, efficient way to heat your domestic hot water. 

The heat pump water heater, as the name implies, is a traditional electric water heater with a heat pump sitting on top. The heat pump takes heat from the air in the surrounding area, and through the refrigeration process, transfers that heat to the water via condensing coils wrapped around the tank. 

The true beauty of this process is that it runs at 300% plus efficiency, while performing the same job of your old water heater, which is less than 94% efficient.

The heat pump sitting on top of the water heater operates at less than 600 watts, compared to your old electric water heater, which operates around 4,500 watts. As you can see, this can make a big difference on your electric bill. 

Now that I’ve sung the praises of this water heater, let’s talk about some of the considerations you need to know:

  1. First, and arguably the most important factor for most of us, is the cost. This water heater costs about three times that of a traditional electric water heater. Fortunately, there is a $400 POWER MOVES® rebate available to help offset this cost. 
  2. Next is location, location, location. A heat pump water heater requires 750 cubic feet of air to operate in heat pump mode, runs a fan during operation and the surrounding air must stay above 45 F. This makes an open basement the perfect place for installation. (An added bonus: Since you are using a heat pump, it will also dehumidify the space it is in.) A basement would also meet the temperature requirement while keeping the noise — similar to a refrigerator — away from your common areas. 
  3. Finally, if you have a larger family, you may want to space out your showers to utilize the maximum efficiency of a heat pump water heater. Left in hybrid mode, it will sense when the heat pump cannot keep up and switch itself to electric mode. This gives you continuous hot water but at the same cost you would be paying for a traditional water heater. 

If you would like to know more about heat pump water heaters, please give me a call, or check out the A.O. Smith product line we sell at cost at, under “Energy Advisor.”