October 30, 2011

Heat Pump Water Heaters are Here

A couple years ago I wrote about heat pump water heaters.   However at that time they hadn't quite hit the market.   Well now they are available for sale.  Not long ago I was in Home Depot and I saw one for sale.

Heat pump water heaters are more efficient because they use the warmer surrounding air to heat the water instead of just directly heating the water with a heating element.    Generally I would say that a heat pump water heater would be a good option if you do not have gas service.  If you have natural gas then a tankless gas heater is likely to be a better option.   However many homes do not have access to natural gas.

Home Depot has a Rheem heat pump water heater for $1298.   Its a 50 gallon tank and should be a drop in replacement for a standard electric water heater.   Energy guide says it uses $234 a year.    (based on 10.65¢ per  kwh)

By comparison an equivalent standard 50 gallon GE Model is just $429.    However the traditional tank model uses $520 of electricity per year based on its energy guide.

The heat pump water heater is significantly more expensive to purchase but it cuts your electric usage by more than half.

You can also get tax incentives and rebates to help pay for the more efficient heat pump water heaters.   Right now there is a tax credit of $300 for buying a hybrid water heater.    You may also be able to get state credits or rebates from utilities but those will vary and some places have no such incentives.

Lets compare...

Hybrid heat pump :
Cost $1298
Tax incentive $300
Out of pocket cost $998
Annual operating cost $234

Standard electric tank:
Cost $429
Annual operating cost $520

Additional cost $869 - $300 tax credit = $569
Annual savings $286 in electricity
Payback = 2 years

The electric savings from a heat pump water heater will pay back the higher purchase cost in just 2 years.

Or we can look at the total cost over 12 years which is the warranty period for both tanks.

12 year totals for initial purchase plus 12 years operation :
hybrid = purchase ($1298 - $300 tax cred) + (12 years x $234 per year) = $3806
normal = purchase ($429 )+ (12 years x $520 per year) =  $6669

Your total savings over 12 year life is $2863

Bottom Line :  If your home uses electricity to heat water then a hybrid heat pump water heater is a good deal.


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