When shopping for a water heater, you used to have two basic options: gas or electric. That has changed. One option that is becoming more popular is the heat pump water heater. At first glance, you might think this is just a standard, electric water heater since it does run off electricity. But there are some important differences. Here's some basic information about heat pump water heaters and when they work well.
How Heat Pump Water Heaters Work
First, consider how a standard hot water heater works. The electricity turns on a big burner, not unlike those seen on an electric stove, and that burner warms up the water inside the tank. A heat pump water heater runs differently. It is powered by electricity, but instead of that electricity powering a burner, it powers a heat exchanger, much like the one in your air conditioner or refrigerator. But instead of removing the heat from the indoor air and pushing it outside like your air conditioner's coil, this coil removes heat from the surrounding air and transfers it to the water in the tank.
Why Heat Pump Water Heaters Are a Good Choice
The end result with a heat pump water heater is the same as with an electric one: you get hot water. Why, then, should you consider a heat pump water heater instead? Well, there are a few benefits of this type of system.
For one, heat pump water heaters are more efficient. They use less electricity, overall, to warm your water. This helps keep your electricity bill lower. It's also better for the planet, since much of the electricity in the U.S. is still generated by less-clean means such as burning coal.
The other primary benefit of a heat pump water heater is that it cools the space it is in. (Remember, the pump has to remove heat from the air and use that heat to warm the water.) While this may not be ideal if you live in the arctic, it's great in warm regions. You might be able to get away without an air conditioner in part of your home if you install a heat pump water heater. Or it will at least take some of the burden off your AC unit, all the while heating water at the same time.
Heat pump water heaters are becoming more common, and for good reason. Consider one the next time you need to replace your water heater.