A major consumer of energy in today’s home is the water heater (11-15%). Electric heat pump water heaters (HPWH) are undeniably one of the most efficient types of water heater available, and they pay for themselves in two to three years. However, they may not be the right choice in every situation. If your water heater is over 10 years old, you should be looking at a replacement anyway to avoid the risk of water damage should the tank fail. Take the time to weigh the pros and cons of the HPWH as a replacement and, if it is right for you, it is a choice that will pay dividends on your budget and reduces your carbon footprint.
How it works
So, how does a HPWH function and what are its advantages and disadvantages? Heat pump water heaters use electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly. Therefore, they can be two to three times more energy efficient.. This means it will cost you less to produce hot water for your home and reduce carbon emissions.
How much can I save?
The following table details the average annual and 10-year costs of common water heaters available in southern Colorado. Liquid propane and natural gas rates are variable and fluctuate based on demand. The costs associated with switching to an electric HPWH from a natural gas water heater is not ultra competitive. However, switching from propane to an electric HPWH can save about 35 to 50 percent on water heating costs.
|Gal/Day: 50||Temperature rise: 70 F|
|Energy unit||Cost/unit||Energy factor||Annual cost||10-yr cost|
|Heat pump water heater||kWh||$ 0.14||3.5||$ 125||$ 1,247|
|Natural gas storage tank||therm||$ 1.50||.67||$ 238||$ 2,382|
|Propane (LP) storage tank||gal||$ 2.00||.67||$ 347||$ 3,471|
|Electric tank||kWh||$ 0.14||.945||$ 462||$ 4,620|
What are the upfront costs?
It’s not unlimited hot showers and bubble baths with heat pump water heating. The upfront costs of a few hundred to a few thousand more are a drawback for some. As we mentioned earlier, the dramatic cost savings from switching to HPWH add up quickly. HPWHs typically pay for themselves within a few years and are worth the investment.
Converting from a traditional electric resistance water heater to a HPWH typically doesn’t involve many extra costs. The installation costs to convert from gas water heating to electric HPWH average from $1,500 to $2,000.
To relieve some of the upfront cost burden, San Isabel Electric offers low-interest, on-bill financing and a rebate up to $350. Most ENERGY STAR certified HPWHs also meet the requirements for a federal $300 Home Improvement Tax Credit as well.
San Isabel Electric’s Empower program can help consumers determine if switching to a heat pump water heater would be beneficial, by looking at their energy usage data, lifestyle and budget. Empower can also help with product selection, obtaining competitive bids, permitting processes, final inspection and maintenance if needed down the road. Maintenance does not vary much between water heaters by fuel-source.
San Isabel Electric’s Empower program was created because too many people struggle to pay their electric bill, cannot afford to make energy efficient upgrades, or they can’t find a reliable, affordable company to install a product. San Isabel Electric believes everyone should have an opportunity to be more energy efficient and save money. Empower benefits are open to anyone, regardless of electric provider.
To contact San Isabel Electric about heat pump water heating, financing or the Empower program go to SIEA.com/Empower, email Empower@SIEA.com or call 800-279-7432 (SIEA).