Once Unusual, Heat Pump Water Heaters are Now Common
Most homeowners who have heat pumps use them to heat and cool their homes. But a heat pump also can be used to heat water — either as stand-alone water heating system, or as combination water heating and space conditioning system.
Electrical powered heat pump water heaters move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly like a conventional water heater. This means that they can be two to three times more energy efficient. Think of it like a refrigerator in reverse.
They can operate as a stand-alone system as an integrated unit with a built in water storage and back up heating elements. Or you can retrofit a heat pump to work with your existing conventional water heater.
You can also install a heat pump system that combines heating, cooling, and water heating. These combination systems pull their heat indoors from the outside air in the winter and from the inside air in the summer. Because they remove heat from the air, any type of air-source heat pump system works more efficiently in a warm climate like California.
Selecting a Heat Pump Water Heater
Heat pump water heaters usually have higher upfront costs than conventional water heaters. However, they are less expensive to operate, which can offset these initial costs.
Before buying a heat pump water heating system, you also need to consider the following:
- Size and first hour rating
- Fuel type and availability
- Energy efficiency
- Overall costs
If you’re considering installing an integrated water heating, space heating, and cooling heat pump system in your home, see our information about air-source heat pumps.