May 30, 2022
How a heat pump hot water heater works

By Brian Gray

If you are looking for ways to combat ever-increasing energy costs, you may want to consider replacing your aging or broken hot water heater with a heat pump water heater.

You may be familiar with heat pumps that heat and cool your home, but a little-known fact is that the same technology can be used to heat hot water – using two to three times less energy than traditional electric resistance water heaters.

Think of a heat pump hot water heater as a refrigerator in reverse. A refrigerator takes cool air from the surrounding air and pushes it into the fridge to keep your food cold or frozen. A stand-alone air-source heat pump water heater pulls heat from the surrounding air and pushes it -- at a higher temperature -- into a tank to heat water.

What's the difference between a heat pump hot water heater and a traditional electric resistance hot water heater? Heat pump hot water heaters:

  • Stand taller than a traditional water heater because there is a compressor located at the top. Depending on the gallon capacity, you will need a minimum of six feet of vertical space to install one.
  • Emit cool air. Depending on the size and space of the area where it installed, may reduce the temperature in the space between 2-5 degrees.
  • On average cost half as much to operate as an electric resistance water heater. If you currently heat your hot water with a boiler and store it in an indirect tank, your savings can be even higher.
  • Are slightly noisier than traditional tanks due to small fans that operate the air flow.
  • Need about 700 cubic feet of space for proper installation.
  • Function as a dehumidifier and may offset how often your current dehumidifier needs to run.

Selecting a Heat Pump Water Heater

Heat pump water heater systems typically have higher initial costs than conventional storage water heaters. However, they have lower operating costs, which can quickly offset their higher purchase and installation prices.

Before buying a heat pump water heating system, here are some questions to ask your prospective installer:

  • What size hot water heater is ideal for your household use?
  • What fuel type is best for your location and budget?
  • What is the heater's energy efficiency rating?
  • What are my overall installation costs?

At the Energy Co-op, we've been installing heat pump hot water heaters for over 5 years. Our experienced technicians can guide you through the selection and installation process, check that available rebates, warranties, or discounts are applied to your purchase and follow up when you need service or advice in the future. Installing a more efficient heat pump water heater is an easy, energy saving solution that pays off big in savings, comfort, and plenty of guilt-free hot showers for the whole family.