In the market for a new water heater? You could always go for a budget option, but with so many changes and improvements in technology, you might want to consider something that is energy efficient and likely to last you a long time! You’ll quickly discover, though, that there are a growing number of options, and choosing the right one can be difficult. Today, we’ll discuss some heat pump water heater pros and cons.
The average home spends between $400 and $600 annually on water heating, which can account for 14-16% of your total utility costs. Bringing that number down can be pretty easy when you choose the right water heater for your home. If you’ve been considering a heat pump, this post is for you.
How Do Heat Pump Waters Heater Work?
Before we get into the pros and cons of heat pump water heaters, let’s talk about how they work. Most water heaters typically rely on gas or electricity to generate heat, but heat pump water heaters are very different. In fact, they do not generate any heat directly at all. Instead, they transfer heat from one place to another to get the job done — but how does that work?
Heat pump water heaters actually pull heat from the surrounding air. This is then delivered to the water in the unit’s storage tank. For this reason, they may not work well in colder climates or when installed in unheated, uninsulated rooms (such as an unfinished basement). Fortunately, Virginia stays relatively mild during the winter months, allowing a heat pump water heater to operate as expected.
To function optimally and safely, you’ll need to ensure that there is at least 1,000 cubic feet of air space around your heat pump water heater. They also require a condensation drain or pump. Unfortunately, these requirements can be problematic for smaller homes.
Pro: Heat Pump Water Heaters Are Efficient
By sheer design, heat pump water heaters are very energy efficient. Rather than having to work hard to generate heat, they work by drawing existing heat from the air surrounding them — this can even include waste heat from a nearby furnace!
As a result, when compared to a conventional electric water heater, heat pump models can be two to three times more energy efficient. Incredibly, ENERGY STAR qualified models can save almost $300 annually on electric bills. Best of all, when properly maintained, heat pump water heaters can last for 10-15 years!
Con: Heat Pump Water Heaters Are Expensive
Prepare for some sticker shock. Why? Because heat pump water heaters may cost up to twice as much as electric resistance models. Just that alone might make you rethink whether this is a viable option, but sometimes you’ve got to look at the bigger picture.
Your upfront costs for a heat pump water heater will be undeniably higher, but think about how much less you’ll be spending in annual energy costs. Within just a few years, the unit could actually pay for itself, leaving you a decade or more of savings. If you can afford it, a heat pump model might be a wise investment, but it won’t be in everybody’s budget.
Pro: Heat Pump Models Are Safe and Environmentally Friendly
Have you ever had to try to relight the pilot light on a water heater? Have you ever been worried about gas leaks or other toxic emissions? With the heat pump model, you won’t have to worry about any of that. Also, because it doesn’t generate heat, the unit itself won’t be hot on the outside, making it a safer option for pets or kids.
Research has also shown that “if all residential electric water heaters less than 55 gallons sold in the United States were ENERGY STAR certified HPWHs, the energy cost savings would grow to almost $12 billion each year, and 140 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented, equivalent to the emissions from more than 13 million vehicles.”
Con: It Might Not Keep Up When Demand Is High
Heat pump water heaters can take a long time to produce larger volumes of hot water. This may not be a big deal during the summer when the unit can easily draw from warm air, but it can be a problem during the cold winter months.
You may find that, during peak times, this type of water heater might fall short of demand. This can be particularly frustrating if you’re a larger family and everyone wants (or needs!) a shower. When this happens, you’ll have to give your heat pump model time to recover.
Heat Pump Water Heaters in Richmond, Virginia
As we’ve discussed, installing a heat pump water heater can be a major financial investment. You want to make sure you are buying the right model for your home, and that it’s being installed correctly. Unfortunately, we’ve helped many customers who spent their hard-earned money on something that didn’t work out.
The NATE-certified technicians at W.G. Speeks can offer guidance and recommendations tailored to your specific needs. We provide free consultations with our team of professionals so that you can shop with confidence. We’ve been serving the homeowners in the Richmond area for more than 75 years, and we look forward to working with you. Give us a call today. We’re here to help!