Are you in the market for a new water heater? If you’ve been using a standard tank water heater your whole life, it’s possible that you’ve never had to investigate other options. In today’s world of heating, however, water heater technology provides many variations.
In particular, we’re looking at heat pump water heaters and how they differ from your standard water heating options.
Tank and tankless water heaters
First, it helps to know about the two more traditional types of water heaters: tank water heaters and tankless water heaters. They both generate heat to raise your water temperature, but they use natural gas and electricity respectively.
Tank water heaters are like big tea kettles, storing several gallons of water. The water, heated with natural gas, becomes hot enough for use in your home.
Tankless water heaters—as the name suggests—don’t use tanks and can’t store water. Instead, they use electrical resistance to create hot water, allowing for an “on-demand” heating system.
Then what’s a heat pump water heater?
A heat pump water heater raises the temperature of your water all the same, but with one key difference: it moves heat instead of generating it.
Heat pump technology is commonly found in air conditioners, and it works almost the same way in a water heater. Using refrigerant and a series of tubes, heat pump water heaters move hot air from the outside and uses it to heat the water.
Does it hold up all year-round?
During the summer, the heat pump has plenty of hot air to work with and can operate at its full potential.
But what happens during the winter, when temperatures are reaching 10° Fahrenheit? If you tried to use a heat pump during a New Jersey winter, wouldn’t the heat pump fail to gather enough warm air from the surroundings?
In the past, that was true. Heat pumps in cold weather would strain themselves to get enough warm air for your home. Now, however, modern heat pump technology can still move hot air from even the coldest temperatures. This works for a couple of reasons:
- There’s always going to be heat in the air, even if it feels cold to you.
- It’s not as if your heat pump water heater will be plunged in 10 feet of snow. Your water heater will be installed in the basement or garage, where the air it has available to feed on is still much warmer than outside.
Is it efficient?
Heat pump water heaters are all about maximizing efficiency and comfort. In comparison to natural gas or electric water heaters, heat pumps are still a better option.
And even though a tankless water heater also uses electricity, the heat pump water heater still uses electricity much more efficiently.
This efficiency does come at a price, however. The upfront cost of installing a heat pump water heater is greater than other types of heaters. But the overall efficiency will save you money in the long run.