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A Guide to Heat Pump Water Heaters

When you think of home appliances, you probably don’t think about your water heater. In fact, most homeowners don’t think about their water heater until something happens and only cold water is coming out of the tap. But now that more homes are being built or renovated, with energy efficiency in mind, water heaters are one appliance worth a second thought.

There are 4 main types of water heaters: conventional storage tanks, tankless, heat pumps, and solar. Storage tanks and tankless water heaters are the most popular, particularly when a gas service or propane are the sources of fuel, but an electric heat pump water heater is a better option for homeowners that don’t have a gas service or propane but are interested in using less energy. Not sure what a heat pump water heater is or whether your home is suitable for one? Find out what it is and why you might be interested in installing one in your home.

What is a Residential Heat Pump Water Heater?

It takes energy to heat the water in your home for things like washing dishes or taking showers, but that energy needs to come from somewhere. Traditional water heaters use electricity (or, in some cases, gas) to heat water through heating elements and circulate it through your home. However, it’s easier – and more energy efficient – to take energy from one place and move it to another rather than generating it from scratch. Think of how your refrigerator works. A refrigerator removes heat from an enclosed space and expels it into the air around it. Heat pump water heaters do the exact opposite; they take heat from the surrounding area, either in the ground or the air, and transfer it into the water in an enclosed tank where it is warmed up whenever you need hot water next. 

The process of heating water in a heat pump system can take a bit more time, but most heat pump water heaters include functionality that includes traditional water-heating abilities as well, making them more of a hybrid-type system. During times of peak water usage, the hybrid system will engage, and the water heater will generate its own heat directly to heat the water for immediate use while also pulling heat from the surrounding area to keep the water hot for as long as possible. But, heat pump water heaters that are installed the right way in ideal conditions rarely have to revert from their energy-efficient mode to the more primary and expensive way of heating water.

Sustainability of Heat Pump Water Heaters

Because the process of transferring heat takes less energy than creating heat, these heat pump water systems are more sustainable than traditional water heating systems. They emit fewer greenhouse gasses, have a lower carbon footprint, and can be even more sustainable when used along with renewable energy sources like solar or wind power. Heat pump water heaters are also more durable than traditional water heaters, which means they can last longer and produce less waste over their lifetime.

Pros of Heat Pump Water Heaters

There are several pros to installing a heat pump water heater in your home. Because of their energy efficiency, they can help in reducing your energy bills over time. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heat pump water heaters can save homeowners up to 50% on their water heating costs compared to traditional electric water heaters. In addition to saving you money throughout the life of the heat pump water heater, you could also be eligible for tax credits after installing your new energy-efficient heat pump. The Inflation Reduction Act that passed in December 2022 states that any heat pump water heaters that have earned the ENERGY STAR designation and are bought and installed between January 1, 2023, and December 31, 2032, will allow the homeowner to claim 30% of the project cost up to $2,000. Homeowners can claim up to $3,200 in tax credits each year they upgrade their homes with the approved goods and services outlined in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Heat pump water heaters also have the capability for automation as well. You can download an app on your phone to help control the system and set up programs like “vacation mode” to help manage costs while you are away. Depending on your home’s current wiring, Brothers expert plumbers can guide you through the automation process during installation without disrupting other areas of your home. Many of the newer heat pump water heaters are wifi enabled and connect wirelessly to your home network, but if your wiring needs alterations or upgrades, our skilled residential electricians can coordinate seamlessly with the plumbing team to set up home automation capabilities in conjunction with your water heater installation.

Installation and Maintenance of Heat Pump Water Heaters

Heat pump water heaters require more specialized installation than traditional water heaters, so hiring a contractor with knowledge and experience in these systems is important. During your consultation, a residential plumber will inspect your home to ensure it can provide the appliance with what it needs to operate efficiently – a space that can provide enough warm air. A heat pump water heater will need anywhere from 750 to 1,000 square feet of space, ideally in an area that never goes below 40 degrees or over 90 degrees. In areas that we serve, successful heat pump water heaters are installed in an area where there is no air conditioning with exposure to the heat of a furnace, boiler, or washer and dryer. It’s also common for these appliances to be installed in garages, but a master plumber would be able to pick the ideal location based on each home’s unique structure.

It’s also important to provide regular inspection and maintenance of your heat pump water heater to make sure it works as well as possible for as long as possible. We recommend a visual inspection of your system every few months to check for leaks and other signs of damage. You can also have a professional come out once a year to perform regular maintenance on your water heater to help prolong its lifespan. 

Residential heat pump water heaters are a sustainable and energy-efficient option for homeowners looking to reduce their carbon footprint and save money on their energy bills. While they require more space, their long-term energy savings and durability make them a worthwhile investment. Our expert and master plumbers specialize in heat pump water heater installation and can usually get the job done in as little as one day. Schedule your free consultation today to meet with our plumbing team and learn more about how a heat pump water heater can be the right solution for your home.