Heat pump water heaters are new generation water heaters after gas, electric and solar. For years, there have been few efficiency options for homeowners that have electric water heaters. That has changed, with the integration of heat pump technology to create a water heater that is more than twice as efficient as standard models.

How do hybrid heat pump water heaters work?

Hybrid heat pump water heaters have four heating modes.

Efficiency mode:

  • Hybrid heat pump water heaters have a self-contained heat pump integrated into the top of the tank
  • Heat from the surrounding air is pulled into the heat pump through a fan
  • The heat is absorbed by the refrigerant in the heat pump’s evaporator coil
  • The temperature of the refrigerant (Environmentally friendly R134a) is increased as it is pumped by the compressor
  • Hot refrigerant is passed through the condenser coil around the tank and transfers the heat to the water
  • This mode has the highest efficiency, up to 2.75 Energy Factor*

Hybrid Mode:

  • When hot water demand is at its peak, this setting utilizes both the heat pump and conventional electric heating elements to provide the needed amount of hot water
  • This mode has a 2.33 Energy Factor*

Electric Mode:

  • In this mode the heater works like a conventional electric water heater, utilizing the elements only to provide quick recovery
  • In this mode, efficiency drops to a .88 Energy Factor*

Vacation Mode:

  • This mode maintains tank temperature at 60 degrees F (15.6 degrees C) during vacation or extended absences
  • Reduces operating costs and provides freeze protection

What hybrid heat pump water heater do you normally recommend?

Wood’s Plumbing normally recommends and provides the American Water Heaters, Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Model HPSE19250H045DV100. American Water Heaters are produced by A.O. Smith. They are a little less expensive for initial cost, but still provide excellent service and dependability.

What are the benefits of a hybrid heat pump water heater?

  • Energy Efficiency – Up to 2.4 Energy factor (EF) rating conserves energy and meets Energy Star qualifications
  • Back Up Electric Elements – Long lasting incoloy heating elements help heat water when in conventional electric or hybrid modes
  • Powered Anode – A non-sacrificial powered anode protects the tank from corrosion and eliminates the service requirements of conventional anode rods
  • Dehumidification – The compressor transfers heat to the water while dehumidifying and cooling the ambient air
  • Dry Fire Protection – Control system checks to ensure the tank is full of water during start up to prevent dry firing the electric heating elements

What can I expect in energy savings?

If you were to combine the energy used by a household’s refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer and clothes dryer, all of those appliances together would still use less energy than a standard electric water heater. Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heaters actually create more hot water than the standard electric water heater using significantly less energy.

Energy Star certified HPWHs can save a household of 3 approximately $370 per year on its electric bills compared to a standard electric water heater. Larger families, that typically use more hot water, will save even more.

While a certified HPWH costs more upfront, the savings will pay back the difference in approximately 2 years for a household of 3.

ENERGY STAR HPWH Savings Based on Household Size   (ENERGY STAR DATA, www.enerystar.gov)

Household Size123456
Annual Savings$120$250$370$490$620$740
Paybacks (Years)
Lifetime Savings$350$1,650$2,850$4,050$5,350$6,550

Assumes: Electricity Rate of 12 cents per kWh; Incremental cost = $850: 10 year lifespan

Operational Requirements

  • Requires provision for condensate draining; of a suitable drain is not available, a condensate pump is required
  • Recommended minimum 750 cubic feet of space for air circulation heat exchange, ideal for garage installation
  • 240 AC single phase power supply with 25 amp circuit breaker

Final thoughts:

If you currently have an older electric water heater, and it is getting close to replacement time, you may want to consider a hybrid heat pump water heater. Consider this not only for the energy savings, but also for environmental purposes. According to the www.energystar.gov web site, if everyone buying an electric water heater this year chose an ENERGY STAR certified HPWH model instead of a standard model, we would avoid 19.6 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s the equivalent of taking 1.6 million cars off the road.

Do you want to save money on the purchase and installation of a hybrid heat pump water heater?

Want to save some upfront money on a hybrid heat pump water heater and installation plus receive continuing plumbing discounts and other benefits? Check out our Prepaid Service Agreements on this website. With the purchase of our service agreement, you can save a minimum of 10% on the purchase and installation costs.