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Heat Pump Water Heaters
Updates and News
 
  • Utilities must submit the heat pump water heater form for all measures claimed for reimbursement. The manufacturer's checklist is no longer required.
  • NEEA offers quality assurance for utilities through the Smart Water Heat program. Utilities interested in this service should contact smvasquez@bpa.gov for more information.
The Benefits of Heat Pump Water Heaters
 
Water heating accounts for 15 to 20% percent of electric energy use in homes with electric water heating. Some new heat pump water heaters (HPWH) have demonstrated savings of up to 50% or more of a home's water heating energy use. Additional benefits of a heat pump water heater include: 
  • User-friendly digital temperature controls with vacation settings and options for operating modes
  • Dehumidification of installation area
How BPA Supports Heat Pump Water Heaters
 
BPA in collaboration with the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), conducts research with local, regional and national organizations to test and evaluate heat pump water heaters. This research helps support claims of energy savings, improve performance, and ensure customer satisfaction.
 
Please note: BPA does not provide incentives directly to homeowners. Please contact your local utility.
How Heat Pump Water Heaters Work
 
HPWHs use electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly, like a refrigerator running in reverse. While a refrigerator pulls heat from its interior and exhausts that heat into the surrounding room, a heat pump water heater pulls heat from the surrounding air and transfers it into the tank to heat the water.
 
There are different types of heat pump water heaters:
  • Integrated units: also called one-piece, drop-ins, or stand-alones. Some of these heat pump water heaters can be fitted with intake and/or exhaust ducts, according the needs of a particular installation location.
  • Add-on units: are attached to an existing storage water heater
  • Split systems: have a heat pump compressor that is separate from the tank to provide flexibility in installation locations.
Only integrated units meet the performance specifications required for ENERGY STAR qualification at this time. These are the only units that currently qualify for BPA's energy efficiency reimbursement, in addition to other requirements.
Program Tools and Resources
Qualified Heat Pump Water Heater Products
 
The Smart Water Heat Project, supported by NEEA, maintains a Heat Pump Water Heater Qualified Products List. All of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 products on this list qualify for BPA reimbursements to utilities.
 
Northern Climate Qualified Heat Pump Water Heaters
 
NEEA created the Northern Climate Specifications to address key operational standards that some ENERGY STAR-qualifying HPWH products do not meet in northern climates, which includes ID, MT, OR, and WA. The specification provides guidance to manufacturers to develop products that are able to provide high levels of consumer satisfaction and energy performance in cooler, northern climates. NCS-compliant products fall into one of three Tiers (although there are currently no Tier 3 products on the market). See the table below for the energy factors and features of each tier.
 
​Tier ​Min. Energy Factor Minimum "Northern Climate" Features​ Installation Locations​ Sound Levels​
1​ 1.8​ Compliant with ENERGY STAR standard​
  • Semi-conditioned
  • Unconditioned​
dBA < 65​
2​ 2.0​ Tier 1 plus:
  • Minimal use of electric heating elements
  • Freeze protection
  • Exhaust ducting option
  • Compressor shut-down/notification
  • 10 year Warranty
  • Condensate Management​
  • Conditioned
  • Semi-conditioned
  • Unconditioned
dBA < 60​
3​ 2.4​ Tier 2 plus:
  • Intake ducting option
  • Air Filter Management​
  • Conditioned
  • Semi-conditioned
  • Unconditioned​
dBA < 55​
 
Information for Installers

It is critical that installers read and comply with all manufacturer installation instructions. There are several primary differences between a heat pump water heater and a conventional electric storage water heater. Failure to install equipment as instructed by the manufacturer may damage the unit, void the warranty or lead to serious complications. Below are links to manufacturer websites with product installation guidance. BPA requires that installers have received manufacturer training, if it is available, prior to installing units.
 
​Brand Names ​Online Training
General Electric​ ​Online training video available here.
AO Smith, American, Kenmore, Reliance, State, U.S. Craftmaster, Whirlpool ​ Online training video available here.​
Air Generate​ Manufacturer only allows contractor installations at this time. For more information go here.​
Steibel Eltron, Electrolux, Rheem, Richmond, Ruud​ No known online trainings at this time. Please read installation manual and DIY Guide thoroughly.​
 
Do-It-Yourself Guide. Installing a heat pump water heater is different in several ways from the installation of a conventional electric water heater. This document will help get you started, though it does not replace manufacturer training.
Information for Utilities

BPA supports utilities by providing a Heat Pump Water Heater incentive form template (see below). NEEA currently supports quality assurance inspections through the Smart Water Heat program. To opt-in for quality assurance inspections, please contact the Smart Water Heat program.
  • Information and resources are available at SmartWaterHeat
  • Heat Pump Water Heater Form - Utilities that would like to participate should customize this form to include their contact information for homeowner use. All fields in this form are required for reimbursement from BPA
  • Do-It-Yourself Guide. Installing a heat pump water heater is not complicated, but it is also not like installing a standard water heater.
  • BPA Implementation Manual - Utilities should always refer to the most current BPA Implementation Manual for specifications, documentation requirements and current BPA reimbursement levels
Research Efforts

From 2009 - 2011 BPA conducted lab and field testing on heat pump water heaters that resulted in demonstrated cost effective energy savings. Links to those BPA Emerging Technology Reports can be found here.
 
Additionally, NEEA is conducting research on HPWHs that incorporate duct work into the design, as specified by its Northern Climate Specification for Tier 2 heat pump water heaters. The Northern Climate Specification was developed in collaboration with Northwest utilities and BPA. For more information about the specification, visit the NEEA website.
Contact
 
For more information please contact David Murphy, HPWH Program Manager at demurphy@bpa.gov.
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