A heat pump water heater is a new technology designed to reduce home water heating costs. Rather than heating water directly like a traditional electric storage water heater, the heat pump saves energy by moving heat from one place to another.
Heat pump water heaters work like a refrigerator, but in reverse – while a refrigerator removes heat from inside the unit and exhausts to the air around it, a heat pump water heater uses fans and an evaporator coil to pull heat from the surrounding air and transfers it to water in the storage tank.
Heat pump water heaters are sometimes referred to as hybrids because they rely on two systems – a heat pump and an electric element. The heat pump saves energy by doing most of the work most of the time. The electric heating elements are used only when needed.
Heat pump water heaters reduce water-heating energy consumption by 50 percent compared to a standard electric water heater. But they carry some disadvantages, too, and consumers should be aware of these before buying.
The fans and evaporator make noise, so heat pump water heaters are best installed away from the main living space. They require extra air space around them; at least 1,000 cubic feet. They cool the spaces they are in, so keep that in mind when choosing where or whether to install one. The cool exhaust air can be ducted to the room or outdoors.
Another drawback is their expense, starting at around $1,000. However, manufacturer rebates, store promotions and Chelan PUD’s rebates can combine to make the units very affordable.
Heat pump water heaters are available at Sav-Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot and Sears (or online through these stores’ websites). A complete list of heat pump water heaters suited to our Northwest climate is available here. You can find a qualified local contractor here.
Do you have a heat pump water heater? If so, how do you like it?