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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.

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 inside a box and dumps it into the surrounding room, a heat pump water heater pulls heat from the surrounding air and transfers it – at a higher temperature – into the tank to heat the water.

There are different types of heat pump water heaters: integrated units (also known as one-piece, drop-ins or stand-alones), add-on units (attached to an existing storage water heater) and split systems. Many integrated units are ENERGY STAR qualified. Ducted integrated units are capable of connecting to ductwork to redirect exhaust air.

Qualified Products List
The following is a list of heat pump water heaters with specifications that qualify for BPA reimbursement to public utilities. (Please note: BPA does not provide incentives directly to end users. Homeowners interested in this technology should contact their local utility.)

Information for Homeowners
Compared to traditional electric water heaters, heat pump water heaters can save up to 50% on energy costs from heating water. Single family homeowners may be eligible for incentives and/or tax credits. Please contact your local utility for more information.

  • Heat Pump Water Heater Fact Sheet (pdf) – information on how HPWHs work, best practices, and frequently asked questions.
  • List of Manufacturer-trained Installers (pdf) – Installers are required to have manufacturer training prior to installation of qualified units. This list is updated as information becomes available, and may not include all manufacturer-trained installers.

Information for Installers
It is very important to read and comply with all manufacturer installation instructions. There are several critical differences between a heat pump water heater and a conventional electric storage water heater. Failure to install exactly as instructed may damage the unit, void the warranty or lead to serious complications later on. Below are links to manufacturer websites with product installation guidance. BPA requires manufacturer training prior to installation of qualified units.

Information for Utilities

  • 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.
  • Implementation Manual – Utilities should always refer to the most recent Implementation Manual for reimbursement requirements. The Implementation Manual is updated every six months.

Research Efforts
BPA conducted lab testing in October 2009, which showed real energy savings from HPWH. Currently a field-technology demonstration, partially funded by BPA in partnership with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), is also underway. The purpose of this demonstration pilot is to test units in the field at 40 sites in various climate zones throughout the Pacific Northwest. Results from EPRI on this demonstration pilot are expected by mid-2012. Learn about the ongoing research online.

NEEA is conducting additional research for HPWH’s that incorporates duct work in their design, as required by their Northern Climate Specification (NCS) for Tier 2 products. The NCS provides guidance for manufacturers and is developed in collaboration with several Northwest utilities and BPA. BPA currently offers utility a program for Tier 1 products. For more information about the specification, visit the NEEA website.

For More Information
Homeowners should contact their utility for more information on how to participate.
For all other inquiries, please contact Stephanie Vasquez, Heat Pump Water Heater Program Manager.

Need help finding something? Send us a message, or give us a call at 800-622-4519.
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