What should I look for when buying a heat pump water heater?
If you want to be the first on your block with this new technology, start planning your purchase today:
- Where will it be installed? Start by visiting the ENERGY STAR Home Upgrade to find out if a super-efficient heat pump water heater is right for your home. HPWHs should be installed in interior spaces that remain between 40° to 90° F year-round, and provide 1,000 cubic feet of air space around the water heater. They generally don't operate as efficiently in colder spaces, and can cool the spaces they are in. If possible, consider installing in a space with excess heat, such as a furnace room. In colder environments with lower incoming water temperature HPWHs may need to go temporarily into a back-up standard electric water heating mode to meet household hot water use in colder months. This will increase energy use during these months. Please see the Considerations section for more details on issues to consider when installing a heat pump water heater.
- Plan ahead if you can. To make your life easier, plan ahead for your next water heater replacement and you will have time to research and select the best technology for your situation before it's an emergency. Your installer may need time to order the proper model, and it may take longer to install than a standard water heater.
- Check product availability. Find out what certified models are available on the market by viewing the ENERGY STAR Product List. You will then need to visit manufacturer Web sites, call local installers, or visit your local retailer to determine who carries these units in your area, or call your plumber or contractor to see what products are available.
- Estimate the capacity you'll need. Use the gallon capacity of your current storage water heater, if you already have one, as a starting point. You can find the water heater's capacity or volume on its nameplate or yellow Energy Guide sticker. This should help you discuss the sizing of the water heater with contractors. You may want to purchase a larger unit if you have added or are planning to add more occupants to your household or a new shower, faucet, dishwasher or washer that will be in frequent use. A contractor or retail salesperson can help you decide if a larger model is necessary.
- Contact a Contractor or Manufacturer. Ideally, you will find a local contractor who can assess your site, provide recommendations, install a system, and then perform periodic maintenance. When choosing a contractor you should:
- Request cost estimates in writing.
- Ask for references.
- Check the company with your local Better Business Bureau.
- See if the company will obtain a local permit if necessary and understands local residential building codes and other regulations.
- Search for rebates. You may be able to reduce your costs by taking advantage of rebates. Be sure to review the eligibility rules before you make your purchase.
- Use the Rebate Finder to determine whether there are rebates available for ENERGY STAR certified water heaters in your zip code.
- Don’t forget about maintenance. HPWHs may also require annual maintenance, including changing air filters. Please review the manufacturing operating instructions, or as your contractor for direction.
- Other Considerations. ENERGY STAR certified HPWHs, in addition to heating water, can provide additional benefits. During hot humid times of the year, the water heater can help cool and dehumidify the space it is installed in.
- Consider other measures that may also save energy. If you are in the midst of new construction or home remodeling project, you may have come across other proposed approaches to water heating. Under the right circumstances, these technologies can save significant amounts of energy.
- Consider selecting heat pump water heaters with a lower Global Warming Potential refrigerant. Refrigerants with lower global warming potential (GWP) for heat pump water heaters include R-744 (CO₂). Selecting an ENERGY STAR certified model with a lower GWP refrigerant means your product will have a much lower impact on the climate if the refrigerant is released into the environment. The GWP compares the warming power of a substance to an equivalent amount of CO2 (GWP = 1 for CO2). Some refrigerants are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are powerful greenhouse gases with GWPs hundreds or thousands of times higher than CO2.
Be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR when shopping for a heat pump water heater
Current Specification Effective Date: April 16, 2015
The specification covers high-efficiency gas storage, whole-home gas tankless, solar, and high efficiency electric storage water heaters. Products must meet minimum requirements for energy efficiency, hot water delivery, warranty period, and safety.
Water Heater Key Product Criteria: ENERGY STAR