Heat pump water heaters can wash away high energy costs

Boy in tub with dog

If your pleasant warm shower is quickly chilled by a sudden rush of cold water, it may be time to consider replacing your home’s water heater.

Fortunately, a variety of options exist that can lower long-term energy costs, including heat pump water heaters (HPWHs). They utilize the same technology found in heat pump heating and cooling systems to heat water used in your home. Heat pumps use compressors, refrigerant, heat exchangers, and the temperature difference between outdoors and inside to produce heating and cooling. Heat pump water heaters work in the same manner, only using the temperature difference between your home and the water in the tank.  There are multiple items to factor when considering an HPWH:

Heat pumps are more than twice as efficient as traditional tank electric water heaters. HPWHs use a refrigerant to move heat from the surrounding air to the water within the tank. This improves efficiency and costs you less to produce hot water. Using less energy also helps reduce carbon emissions, benefiting the environment.  

Heat pumps can help cool and dehumidify the surrounding space in the summer. During the summer months, the heat pump will draw heat from nearby air to help warm the water. This can help lower nearby temperatures, making the space more comfortable. They also dehumidify the air! So, if you are already running a dehumidifier in the basement, an HPWH can do that job while heating your water!

Location matters! Where a HPWH is installed can impact its overall performance. ENERGY STAR® recommends installing HPWHs in unconditioned or semi-conditioned interior spaces where temperatures remain above 50 F for most of the year. ENERGY STAR also recommends avoiding placing the HPWH in garages or outdoors where it can be consistently subjected to freezing temperatures.

Don’t forget your Power Moves® rebate and tax credit! An ENERGY STAR-certified HPWH can save up to $490 annually in energy costs for a family of four. Your local electric cooperative also offers a $400 Power Moves rebate for qualifying HPWHs. And, you may be eligible for a federal tax credit (ask your tax advisor).

If your water heater is close to 10 years old (or older), you should start considering a replacement. Fortunately, a variety of options exist, including heat pump water heaters, to improve your home’s energy use. Contact your local electric cooperative’s energy advisor to discuss options and how your co-op can help. You also can visit www.PowerMoves.com/water-heater for more information on HPWHs, as well as other energy-saving tips.