Switch to an All Electric heat-pump Water Heater
By Donna Davies
There is a way to efficiently heat the water in your home that can reduce your energy bills and is environmentally friendly. The use of natural gas, methane, or propane to heat water produces significant greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, an all-electric heat pump water heater (HPWH) opens the opportunity to access clean energy sources such as solar and wind from the grid. Converting to all-electric also improves your health and safety by ridding your home of the by-products of burning natural gas, including nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde.
A HPWH works by moving existing ambient heat from one place (outside) to another (inside the tank.) This operation is up to four times more efficient than directly heating the water, so it can reduce your energy bills. Heating water is about 20% of the cost of your total home energy usage.
A challenge that homeowners face in converting to a HPWH is the cost of the unit and the variable costs associated with installation. According to TECH Clean California, the cost in Santa Clara County is $6,461 for materials, permit, and installation. If needed, electrical panel upgrades are expensive and add to the cost.
However, there are opportunities right now to lower the expense hurdle. Rheem, the 100-year-old water heating manufacturing company, has introduced a first-of-its-kind, all-electric, 120V heat-pump water heater. Unlike the 240V models, it does not need a dedicated circuit breaker which dramatically reduces the cost of installation. Rebate programs are a giant help, too. The Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN) is offering a $2000 rebate for customers using one of their approved contractors. In addition, Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) is offering incentives. And finally, due to the Inflation Reduction Act, there’s a $2000 federal tax credit for upgrading from a gas powered one so now is a great time to make the switch.
One of our members installed a 120V Rheem HPWH and says it delivers plenty of hot water. His biggest concern was the recovery time to heat the water back up after taking a shower and it hasn’t been a problem.