Heat-pump water heaters have come of age. They have been gaining increasing notice after major home improvement stores started carrying them alongside more traditional water heaters.


1. Heat pump water heaters (HPWH) shot to popularity because of rising concerns about our continued and increased hot water consumption.

In almost every home these days, water heater is one major consumer of electricity. Water heaters have electric resistance elements that max out in efficiency at about 96 percent.

The Department of Energy conducted a lengthy study evaluating the efficiency of electric water heaters and finding alternative solutions after rising concerns for increased energy use and carbon emissions were pointed out.

The heat pump water heater came into the picture because it costs less to produce hot water and reduce carbon emissions – up to 2.5 times more efficient than a traditional resistance electric water heater.

2. Heat pump water heaters use electricity – the same way conventional water heaters do – but for the purpose of moving heat, not creating it.

Over the years more and more types of water heaters have been introduced for use in residential and commercial facilities. Heat-pump water heaters are not an exception because of its very efficient way of heating water.

Heat pump water heaters utilize electricity, not to produce heat directly, but to move heat from one place to another. It works like a refrigerator but backward in order to transfer heat. While a refrigerator draws heat from inside a box and releases it outside, HPWH draws heat from outdoor air and releases it into a tank to heat up water.

3. Heat pump water heaters are effective energy multipliers without the additional energy consumption.

In very basic terms, HPWH extracts heat energy from the surrounding air and transfers it to water in the tank.

It can generate around 4kW of output heat, for every 1kW of power input (depending on the surroundings). This remarkable performance efficiency can lead to savings of up to 75% over conventional electric storage water heaters.

4. Heat pump water heaters are bigger than conventional water heaters.

It is because they contain two water heaters inside the equipment. The first heat pump harvests heat from the surrounding air and is used for heating the water. The second heat pump has electric resistance heating elements, found in conventional electric water heaters, to heat the water.

The heat pump side of the water heater has an efficiency rating of more than twice than what conventional electric water heaters can produce.

5. The high initial investment is mitigated with its quick and continued payback time.

The running costs would depend upon the size of your household and how much hot water gets consumed over time. While an electric resistance unit can cost between $300 and $500, the average cost of a 50 gallon tanked HPWH is between $1,200 and $1,400. For a family of four, HPWH allows for up to $600 savings a year depending on the usage frequency and location.

However, a payback period of three to four years can be attributed to their operating efficiency, and it complies with the new Energy Star standards. This is a great deal especially if you will be able to take advantage of federal or state tax credits and other incentives to make your home more energy efficient.

For those using photovoltaic solar panels, heat pump water heaters are an ideal solution because they are electricity efficient and use power in off periods.