Heat Pump Water Heaters
Heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) are a great choice for many households. HPWHs are clean, safe and all-electric. They can be three to four times more efficient than the conventional, gas-fueled storage-tank water heaters typically found in Bay Area homes.
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Frequently Asked Questions
When should I install a HPWH?
Before your current water heater fails! If your water heater is over 10 years old, now is a good time to research HPWHs. Water heaters typically last about 13 years. Emergency replacements can be harder to do than a planned replacement. Find a qualified contractor.
What do HPWHs look like?
How do they work?
A heat pump works like a refrigerator but in reverse. A refrigerator uses electricity, refrigerant and a compressor to move heat from inside the refrigerator to the outside air. A HPWH takes heat from the surrounding air and transfers it to the water in the tank.
Where is the HPWH typically located?
When you interview installers, ask where they recommend the unit be installed. A HPWH has a slight cooling effect on the area around it—after all, it’s like a “reverse refrigerator.” Ideally it would be installed in a garage, basement or attic. A storage or laundry room might work, but probably not a small closet; the HPWH needs some air circulation because it extracts heat from the air around it.
A HPWH produces water condensation inside the unit that must be routed to a drain. Your installer will take this into consideration when recommending best locations.A HPWH’s fan and compressor make a little noise when it runs, similar to a refrigerator, so avoid installing it next to a bedroom or other location where it would disturb occupants.
What do they cost?
They cost more upfront than gas or conventional electric water heaters, but the energy savings make up for the initial cost difference. Costs can vary depending on the situation, such as whether the home’s electrical service panel needs to be upgraded. Rebates and a federal tax credit may lower the cost.
can program it so that it actively heats water during your electric company’s off-peak hours when electricity rates are lower. The HPWH’s storage tank will keep the water hot for when you need it.
How does the water temperature and capacity compare to gas water heaters?
What makes HPWHs environmentally friendly?
I’m planning to install a solar electricity system. Does that affect my water heater decision?
Can I install a HPWH myself?
Can I install a HPWH myself? Water heater installation must comply with state and local building codes. Also, HPWH installation requires both plumbing and electrical work. We recommend using a licensed contractor with HPWH experience. Browse BayREN’s list of qualified contractors.
What questions should I ask when interviewing contractors?
We recommend interviewing, checking references, and requesting written quotes from at least three contractors. Check their license status with California’s Contractors State License Board. Check for complaints with the Better Business Bureau.
Questions to ask installers during the interview include:
- How many HPWHs have you installed?
- Which model do you recommend and why?
- Where do you recommend the unit be installed?
- Where will the condensate drain to?
- Will any electrical upgrades be needed at the installation location or the electrical service panel? Will the cost of the electrical work be included in the estimate?
- How do you recommend I operate the HPWH for optimal performance and cost savings?