Heat Pump Water Heaters: The Ideal Solution to Deliver Home Energy Savings | Alliance to Save Energy

Heat Pump Water Heaters: The Ideal Solution to Deliver Home Energy Savings

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Alliance to Save Energy's Blog

04/26/22 / Stacey Gearhart

Heat Pump Water Heaters: The Ideal Solution to Deliver Home Energy Savings

Heat pump water heaters

Guest blog by Stacey Gearhart, VP of Product Management and Channel Marketing, Rheem Manufacturing Company

As sky-high gasoline prices deliver pain at the pump, consumers are looking for ways to cut energy costs. This is also true in our homes, where fluctuating energy rates make budget planning a challenge. The good news is that how we heat water for daily use is undergoing a technology revolution with massive improvements for energy costs and environmental stewardship. These technology advances will dramatically reduce the costs of heating water and slash emissions contributing to climate change.

Heat pump water heaters deliver superior energy savings and are a key decarbonization strategy that policymakers across the ideological spectrum support. Although not exactly a new technology – Rheem has manufactured heat pump water heaters for more than 40 years – a combination of step-change technology advancement and strong policy support have heat pump water heaters poised to drive significant energy and operational savings for consumers in the years ahead.

Heat Pumps in Your Home

The Alliance to Save Energy last fall dispelled myths about heat pump performance and cost. Considering water heating is the second highest energy use in a typical residential home, accounting for 14 to 18% of your utility bill, according to the Department of Energy, efforts to decarbonize buildings require a full suite of technologies. An ENERGY STAR-certified heat pump water heater cuts customer energy bills, saving a family of four an average of $350 per year compared to a standard electric water heater – a payback of little over two years!

Considering that these money-saving appliances are only installed in little more than one percent of all U.S. homes, how can policymakers and the industry accelerate deployment of heat pump water heaters?

Overcoming Installation Challenges

Heat pump water heaters are far more efficient than conventional electric tank models, but for homeowners converting from a gas water heater, upgrading an electric panel may be required to support a dedicated 240-volt circuit. New products, utilizing 120-volt 15-amp circuits that do away with the need to upgrade an electric panel are now available to consumers. Manufacturers and utilities should also work to raise consumer awareness and the benefits of hybrid and heat pump water heaters, including promoting utility and local and federal rebates as a way to help homeowners manage the higher upfront costs of heat pump water heaters.

Policy to Boost Adoption

There are a number of tools at our disposal to overcome these hurdles. Policymakers can offer financial incentives, such as what was proposed in the House-passed version of the Build Back Better Act last November. Grants to upgrade electrical service panels, incentives for the purchase and installation of highly efficient heat pump water heaters, and workforce development funds to support quality installations will accelerate deployment of technologies to reduce consumer energy bills and building emissions.

We need to think big if we expect consumers to embrace heat pump water heaters, and that means training a workforce familiar with the product and confident in recommending the solution to homeowners. Plumbers and installers are critical market influencers, thus helping them understand, sell, and service sustainable products will significantly accelerate adoption. Through Rheem’s network of Innovation Learning Centers to support both in-person and virtual training, we will train 250,000 plumbers on heat pump water heater installation best practices and we are well on our way to surpassing that goal, training close to 150,000 plumbers between 2019 and 2021.

Now is the time to catalyze energy efficiency through a step-change investment in heat pump water heater technology and launch energy savings solution to millions of Americans. Let’s not miss this opportunity.




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