It’s not a matter of IF your hot water heater dies – but WHEN. According to the Department of Energy, the average lifespan of a hot water heater is 13 years. So if your hot water heater is over ten years old – or if you’re planning to electrify your home — the time to PLAN for a Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH) is NOW.
Heat pump water heaters have become consumer favorites — and the bête noir of natural gas companies – because they have efficiencies in the range of 200-300%. Much more efficient than gas water heaters (70-80%), electric water heaters (99%) and tankless water heaters (70-99%). Plus, there are no dangerous exhaust fumes or methane fuel.
Their big disadvantage is that they are not an easy replacement for a tankless hot water system. This is because customers who have a tankless system almost never have space for a large hot water tank. So if you have a tankless system – whether inside or outside your house – a HPWH is usually not a good option.
There are three reasons why the up-front costs for a new HPWH are usually higher than a simple replacement with a new gas or electric water heater. First, a HPWH is more complicated. Second, most HPWH incentives (except tax credits) require you to bring your existing hot water system up to current building codes. And third, you will need a dedicated 240 volt electric circuit for the most popular HPWH models.
Net-net, it’s a little-known secret that these HPWH upgrade costs often negate the value of tempting IRA and local rebates.
Nevertheless, heat pump water heaters will continue to be the gold standard for water heater replacements. Please tune into this week’s Energy Show to unlock the future of home domestic hot water heating.