Heat Pumps for Water Heating?

Over the last several years we have found that heat pump systems are extremely efficient.  They take the ambient heat or cold around them and eventually transfer it to what ever we are trying to change the temperature.  Geothermal heat pumps would be almost the perfect system if we could get the bugs worked out.  They would be great for either air source temperature control or water heating as well!

Mention heat pump water heaters and most people will still give you a long pause and blank stare!  These systems are fairly new.  Some explanation is in order.  They are arguably better than on demand water heaters… We are going to watch for comparison tests.  However, some of the research we have found is they are here to stay and likely will become the mainstay especially in electric homes. 

Most of the heat pump water heaters (HPWH) we have looked at have an efficiency in the 2.3 range or 230% efficient!  Current tank type electric water heaters are .92 or so.  Tank type gas water heaters are about .62 plus or minus a bit.  When we enter the HPWH into our energy modeling software it comes up as a huge energy saver.  The energy savings over a similar size gas WH is about 70%.  The HPWH also reduces the HERS rating by several points!  The HERS is like a MPG rating on a car.  Very few improvements or products change the savings or ratings the way this product does. 

Cost of a HPWH is inline with an on demand system – usually about $1200 and will vary with size and brand.  Even so the payback is tremendous!  For a homeowner doing a retrofit, payback should be within 2-3 years.  For builders – this would be a GREAT product to highlight and focus much of your marketing on.  Show your customers how much they will save every month and over the long haul!  Retrofits to an existing electric WH is really simple while retrofitting to other systems will take some extra efforts, mostly wiring.

One fact worth mentioning is that HPWH will “discharge or exhaust” cool air so they should be placed outside the conditioned space.  In moderate climates they work great!  In cold climates, locating the HPWH  would need to be taken into consideration.

Need more great ideas? Contact us for a free consultation!  360-624-5523

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About Kent Mitchell

30 years in various construction positions. Currently specializing in residential energy efficiency and green building methods. Also I am a new online business student at BYU-I
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