Heat Pump Water Heaters: What You Need to Know Before You Buy

By now you’ve seen ads at hardware stores and heard talks from friends about Heat Pump Water Heaters. If, and when, you’re in the market for a new water heater, you may be wondering if it’s right for you.

Here’s a breakdown of 4 main points when it comes to Heat Pump Water Heaters:

Utility and Federal Rebates, & how they work: Some utility districts will offer you a rebate. This would be in addition to any manufacturer rebate you receive. This applies ONLY when you install them in an UNCONDITIONED AREA of your home. For example, an unconditioned garage or crawl space. If there’s a federal tax credit you haven’t yet used, you may also be eligible for this as well.

Where you CAN and CAN’T put them: Some manufactures have advertised that you can put them in your closet spaces. Heat pump water heaters blow out cold air while the heat pump is in use, effectively cooling conditioned spaces in your home.

Settings: Heat Pump Water Heaters have several settings. They can switch from Heat Pump only, to Hybrid (both Heat Pump and Electric Element), Electric Only, to a number of other settings. This makes it convenient to adjust when you have in-laws come to town.

Thinking in the long term: Because Heat Pump Water Heaters work optimally between 40-90⁰, when it gets colder, you will find the system will have trouble keeping up in Heat Pump Only mode.

The other major problem is we don’t know how long Heat Pump Water Heaters will last. Any major failure may cause you serious problems. Tests done on early models showed failures within the first few years, but new models have proven to be much more reliable.

In independent studies, Heat Pump Water Heaters did save anywhere from $40-270 per year when switching from an electric water heater to the Heat Pump Water Heater.

If you have natural gas, it’s best to get a high efficiency water heater when you are ready for a new one. However, if you are on propane, any kind of electric water heater will always save you more.