While water heater repair or water heater replacement is generally best left to the professionals, like Roto-Rooter, one job that you can do yourself is to conduct research and decide which of the many different types of water heaters on the market is right for your home. One very efficient type is a heat pump water heater, also known as hybrid heat pump water heaters.
Powered by electricity, this type of water heater works to intensify the heat it draws from the air, transferring that heat to a quantity of water contained within its storage tank. Because it works in concert with the environment, an electric heat pump system performs best in hot climates where the technology can be up to three times more energy efficient than a traditionally designed unit.
It's generally easier to move heat than to make heat. Putting that principle to use, heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) use electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly. During periods of high hot water demand, HPWHs automatically switch to standard electric resistance heat (which is why they are often referred to as “hybrid” hot water heaters).
HPWHs come with control panels that you use to select from different operating modes, which include:
Efficiency/Economy – Maximizes energy efficiency and savings by only using the heat pump to heat water
Auto/Hybrid – Ideal for daily use, providing energy-efficient water heating with sustained heat
Electric/Heater – This high-demand setting is the least energy-efficient, using only the electric element to heat water
Vacation & Timer (not available on all models) – Save on your energy when away from home by placing the unit in "sleep" mode until you return
Heat pump water heaters require installation in locations that tend to remain in the 40 to 90 degree range year-round and provide at least 1,000 cubic feet of air space around the water heater. Install them in a space with excess heat, such as a furnace room. Heat pump water heaters will not operate efficiently in a cold space. Because they remove heat from the air, any type of air-source heat pump system works more efficiently in a warm climate.
Heat pump water heater systems typically have higher initial costs than conventional storage water heaters. However, you’ll enjoy their lower operating costs, which can offset their higher purchase and installation prices. These units, like all storage tank water heaters, have a life expectancy of 10-12 years.
Proper installation and maintenance of your heat pump water heating system can optimize its energy efficiency. Proper installation is crucial and depends on a number of factors including climate, safety concerns, and local building code requirements. Therefore, it's best to have a qualified plumbing and heating contractor install your heat pump water heater.