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Many of you reading this are searching out information on this new type of water heater to see if it is a wise investment for your home. There are many questions that need to be answered to come to that conclusion and I’ll try and answer them because heat pump water heaters are currently 3-4 times more expensive than a conventional natural gas or electric resistance water heater. It is for that single reason that many will give pause before opening their wallets.
The upfront costs are relatively high at the moment but I look for prices to come down as demand increases. Practically everyone in the HVAC business expects the cost of electric heat pump water heaters to come down significantly in the next couple of years. I say “practically” because there are always going to be a couple of knucklehead nay-sayers that want to buck the trend.
Let’s take this question by question and see where that takes us:
How do heat pumps work?
If you are familiar with a heat pump HVAC system then you already know the basics. Heat pump water heaters use electricity to move heat from one place to another, much like a refrigerator works, only in reverse. Heat pump water heaters extract the heat from the air surrounding the unit and dumps it into the tank at a higher temperature. Spec details on how a HPWH works.
Are they cost effective? Will I get a good return on my investment (ROI)?
A new 50-gallon electric heat pump water heater will run you around $1,500 and that much again to have it installed. You need to know or convert the unit cost of electricity by kilowatt-hour (kWh) to figure the annual operating cost.
365 X 12.03/EF X Electricity Cost by kWh = estimated annual cost of operation
Example: A heat pump water heater with an EF of 2.0 and a electricity cost of $0.0842/kWh
365 X 12.03/2.0 X $0.0842 = $185
source The preceding source link also has a couple of tables to help you figure your annual operating costs. This will give you a very good idea if, and when, you will have a good ROI in due time.
The bottom line is that you will have a good ROI over the life of the unit.
Are electric heat pump water heaters energy efficient?
Electric heat pump water heaters use about 2-3 times less energy than a conventional electric resistance water heater. This energy factor table shows how energy efficient they are compared to other types of water heaters. They are extraordinarily energy efficient in comparison to current technologies, including solar.
Do heat pump water heaters do a good job of heating water? In other words, what is the first hour rating for a typical heat pump water heater?
Electric heat pump water heaters work as good, or better than, conventional water heaters. First Hour Ratings vary from 60 – 78 (gallons per hour). That rates favorably vs. electric resistance water heaters.
How many different brands and/or models are on the market?
At time of publishing, there were 16 models. Brands/models to seek out that are Energy Star qualified are:
- A.O. Smith PHPT-80 Voltex Hybrid Electric (80 gal.)
- AirGenerate ATI 1266 AirTap (66 gal.)
- American HPE10280H045DV Hybrid Electric (80 gal.)
- GE GEH50DNSRSA GeoSpring (50 gal.)
- GE GEH50DXSR (50 gal.)
- Reliance 10 80 DHPT (80 gal.)
- Rheem HP50RH (50 gal.)
- Rheem EcoSense HP50ES (50 gal.)
- Richmond HP50RM (50 gal.)
- Ruud HP50RU (50 gal.) same model as the Rheem
- State EPX 80 DHPT Premier Hybrid (80 gal.)
- USCraftMaster HPE2K80HD045V – USC (80 gal.)
- USI Green Energy Green Star WH1360 (65 gal.)
- Whirlpool HPE2K80HD045V -HP (80 gal.)
- North Road Technologies Geyser
Of the products mentioned above, all heat pump units are integrated with the tank while the AirTap, Geyser and the USI Green Star are stand-alone units that you retrofit onto your existing gas and/or electric water heater. That makes them very versatile and cost effective.
Where can I purchase an electric heat pump water heater?
Call local installers and visit manufacturer websites to check availability in your area.
Is an electric heat pump water heater eligible for a tax credit?
- You have it installed in your principal residence prior to December 31, 2010.
- It is Energy Star qualified with an energy factor of at least 2.0. That link is a great little table with lots of easy to read info on it. It’s a must-see. Glossary of terms in column headers.
How do I receive my tax credit and how much tax credit is it eligible for?
- File Tax Form 5695 with your tax return. Save your receipt and the Manufacturers’ Certification Statement.
- The amount of tax credit is 30% of the cost (including installation/labor) up to $1,500.
How much do heat pump water heaters cost?
I saw a Rheem 50 gallon unit in the store the other day that cost $1,498. that should give you a general idea. Obviously, prices will vary based on brands/models and storage capacity, for starters.
Please feel free to drop me a line if you have any other questions regarding electric heat pump water heaters and I’ll do my best to answer them.
- Rebate/Tax Credit/Incentive map by state (extremely handy)
- GE’s Hybrid Water Heater Review from the International Builders’ Show
- Aqua Products Hydronic Heat Pump
- 90% Efficiency Gas Water Heater!! Check it out!
I started as a home-stalker… visiting brand new homes under construction in the neighborhoods near my house. That inspired me to write about home building and home renovation projects — chronicling homes during different phases of construction from a consumer's point-of-view. Basically, the tips you'll find in my articles are a collection of checklists for what I think should (and should not) go into building or remodeling a quality home.