January 11, 2016
Today’s guest post by Steve Ryan of the U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR program is about how to save money with more efficient Heat Pump Water Heaters.
Water heaters, tucked away in basements or utility closets, are unlikely to cross your mind on a regular basis. The utility bill that arrives in the mail every month? That attracts a bit more attention, as we’re all looking for ways to reduce energy costs. That utility bill is directly tied to water heating – which is the second largest energy user in your home. In fact, a family of four will spend about $600 per year on their electric water heating. ENERGY STAR certified heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) can cut those water heating costs in half.
An ENERGY STAR certified HPWH will save a family of four over $300 per year and more than $3,500 in electricity costs over its 13 year lifespan. Although costing more, HPWHs qualify for very generous utility incentives – ranging from $200 to $1000 – to help bring down the upfront costs tremendously.
HPWHs Work Differently
Like a refrigerator run in reverse, HPWHs transfer heat from the surrounding air to the water in the tank. During periods of high hot water demand, HPWHs actually switch to standard electric resistance heat — which is why they are often referred to as “hybrid” electric water heaters. More high tech than conventional water heaters, HPWHs have programmable options that allow you to take the extra step of modifying water heater functionality as needs change — from “economy” mode for low use to “vacation” mode that shuts down the HPWH for a set amount of time.
HPWHs Are Here to Stay
ENERGY STAR certified, HPWHs are made by all the major makers (e.g., AO Smith, GE Appliances, Bradford White, Rheem) and sold at the big-box retailers (e.g., The Home Depot, Lowes, Sears). They have been installed in homes for the past 10 years.
A Purchase that Protects the Environment
If all residential electric water heaters sold in the United States were ENERGY STAR certified HPWHs, the energy cost savings would grow to $8 billion each year, and 100 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented, equivalent to the emissions from 9 million vehicles.
When your aging electric water heater fails, ask your contractor for an ENERGY STAR certified HPWH. Better yet, if your water heater is more than 10 years old, look to replace it early and avoid problems like leaks and flooding that commonly occur when a water heater fails. And finally, contact your local utility for hundreds of dollars in incentives.
More information can be found at www.energystar.gov/waterheaters, including information about ENERGY STAR qualified gas water heaters, and I am more than happy to answer your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo and Chart Credit: Energy Star