Austin, TX Heat Pump Water Heaters (HPWH) FAQ's

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Is an electric hybrid water the same thing as a heat pump water heater (HPWH)?

Generally both terms are referring to the same technology - an air to water heat pump combined with a storage tank equipped with supplemental electric resistance elements.

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What is a heat pump water heater?

Heat pump water heaters use a refrigeration system to transfer thermal energy for the environment in your mechanical space into a domestic hot water storage tank. Heat pump water heaters are about 3 times more efficient than electric tank style water heaters and can reduce your hot water heating costs by as much as 70%.

Are heat pump water heaters EnergyStar rated?

Yes, almost all heat pump water heaters are EnergyStar rated. Efficiency rates are measured by their UEF (Uniform Energy Factor). Current HPWH models have UEF ratings of 3.0 to 3.7.

Is a heat pump water heater a good choice in central Texas?

Heat pump water heaters are a great choice in the Austin, TX area. Particularly if you utilized electric or LP gas for your water heating, a new HPWH can pay for itself in just a few years through energy savings.

Can a heat pump water heater be installed anywhere?

No. Heat pump water heaters new to be installed in a location that will not freeze in the winter. They should not be installing outdoors. Also, here Austin, water heaters are commonly installed in attic spaces and some of these spaces may not be the best place to install a new HPWH. Installations in unheated garages, basements, our mechanical spaces are all good possibilities.

Heat pump water heaters are also taller than most tank style water heaters so you will want to ensure adequate height for installation.

Are there different sizes of heat pump water heaters?

Heat pump water heaters are available with different how water storage volumes, typically 40 to 80 gallons. More storage gives larger buffers to handle higher or longer peak hot water flow rates.

Should I add an insulating blanket to my heat pump water heater?

All EnergyStar heat pump water heaters have heavy foam insulation, so the tank losses less than 10% of its thermal energy each day though the wall of the tank. The improper addition of an insulating blanket risks blocking the heat pump’s air intake and outlet so manufacturers DO NOT recommend the addition of an insulating blanket.

Are there rebates and incentives that could reduce up-front cost of purchasing a heat pump water heater?

Yes. There is an $800 rebate for residential electric customers of Austin Energy. Click here for details. There is also a Federal Tax Credit of $300 for homeowners in their primary residence.

Do heat pump water heater have electronic controls?

Yes. HPWH's feature a control panel that allow homeowners to select water temperature and operation mode. Many also offer a Wifi interface that can work with your Apple or Android mobile device to provide interface and temperature controls from anywhere.

Are there disadvantages of a heat pump water heater?

  • They are 2 to 3 times more expensive to install (before applicable incentives) than the cheapest electric tank style water heater. They are similar in cost to an 0.80 UEF tankless water heater.
  • They cannot be installed everywhere. They need to be installed in an area that cannot freeze, and do a significant require mechanical space.
  • Tankless water heaters do not have any stored hot water, so if you have a period of time where you need a very high flow rate of domestic hot water a tankless model may have trouble meeting that momentary demand.
  • They have better first hour ratings than electric water heaters, but lower first hour ratings than many gas fired water heaters. If you need a lot of hot water they may not be your best choice.

Does a heat pump water heater produce condensation like my air conditioner?

Yes, in normal operation, a heat pump water heater will produce some condensation that will need to be properly disposed of. If also offers the supplemental benefit of some dehumidification and air conditioning of the space in which it is located.