Heat pump water heaters pull heat from the surrounding air into a water tank, using the same technology a refrigerator uses but in reverse.
Because they move heat from one place to another rather than generating heat directly, heat pumps can be two to three times more efficient than conventional hot water heaters. Location and space requirements include an unheated space of at least 700 cubic feet, unrestricted air flow, and minimum clearance of 6 inches on all sides. Heat pump water heaters also require a dedicated breaker of at least 15 amps and a 240V electrical conduit.
Rebates are available from Electrify Marin and other sources.
Hybrid heat pump water heaters, such as those sold at Home Depot, don’t rely on electricity as much as traditional units do. This keeps electricity costs down without sacrificing performance. Plus, with no clearance requirement, a hybrid water heater can be installed anywhere, saving precious space. Home Depot claims that these pumps have four times the efficiency of a standard electric water heater and can reduce energy use by 75%, generating energy savings up to $315 a year, or $490 a year on 80-gallon models.
Questions about heat pump water heaters and available rebates can be directed to Electrify Marin.