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Heat Pump Water Heaters
Updates and News

NEEA offers quality assurance for utilities through the Hot Water Solutions program. Utilities interested in this service should contact for more information.

BPA Research: Heat Pump Water Heater Study
Energy-Efficient Replacement of Electric Resistance Water Heaters in Low-Rise Multifamily Study
Multifamily homes are currently an underserved market for energy savings in the Pacific Northwest, with significant energy-savings potential across a number of end uses, especially hot water. Research commissioned by BPA explored how heat pumps may fill this void by understanding current measures offered through utilities across the U.S. The research determined that there are limited multifamily heat pump water heater retrofit options available. Collaboration efforts have been launched to work with national and west coast market players to bring new hot water heat pump products and designs to better serve this market. This study describes the research findings and potential next steps.
The Benefits of Heat Pump Water Heaters
Water heating accounts for 15 – 20 percent of energy use in homes with electric water heating. Some new heat pump water heaters (HPWH) have demonstrated savings of up to 50 percent 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 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: Units attached to an existing storage water heater
  • Split systems: Feature a heat pump compressor that is separate from the tank to provide flexibility in installation locations.
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.
Program Tools and Resources
  • Utilities should always refer to the most current BPA Implementation Manual for specifications, documentation requirements and current BPA reimbursement levels.
  • BPA supports the HPWH program with a variety of residential marketing toolkit materials that can be customized by utility. BPA HPWH materials are located in the Promotional Materials section of the BPA website.
  • Utility marketing templates and resources are also available from Hot Water Solutions.
Qualified Heat Pump Water Heater Products
BPA maintains a Qualified Products List for Heat Pump Water Heaters.
NEEA created the Advanced Water Heater Specification (formerly 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 informs the BPA Qualified Products List above, and offers guidance to manufacturers to develop products that are able to provide high levels of consumer satisfaction and energy performance in cooler, northern climates.
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.
​Brand Names ​Online Training
General Electric​ ​Online training video available here.
AO Smith, American, GSW, Kenmore, Lochinvar, John Wood, Reliance, State, U.S. Craftmaster, Whirlpool Online training video available here.​
Steibel Eltron, 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. NEEA currently supports quality assurance inspections through the Hot Water Solutions program. To opt-in for quality assurance inspections, please contact the Hot Water Solutions program.
  • Information and resources are available at Hot Water Solutions.
  • Review the Hot Water Solutions Utility Quality Assurance Webinar, presented by NEEA on 1/20/16.
  • 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. 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. 
Additionally, NEEA conducted research on HPWHs that incorporate duct work into the design, as specified by its Advanced Water Heat Specification for Tier 2 heat pump water heaters. As a result of that work, it has been determined that ducting is not required for energy savings, though it may be preferred for customer comfort. The Advanced Water Heat Specification was developed in collaboration with Northwest utilities and BPA. For more information about the specification, visit the NEEA website.
NEEA also researched split systems that use carbon dioxide as the refrigerant. NEEA confirmed models that meet the Advanced Water Heater Specification, and those models have been added to the BPA Heat Pump Water Heater Qualified Products List.
For more information please contact David Murphy, HPWH program manager, at