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Heat Pump Water Heaters

What are heat pump water heaters?

A heat pump water heater is the most efficient way to heat hot water with electricity and is the most climate-friendly form of water heating available in BC.

A heat pump water heater takes heat from one place and moves it to another by compressing and expanding refrigerant. To heat water, the heat pump pulls warmth form the ambient air by compressing the air to increase its temperature. The heat flows through a condenser coil inside the hot water system to transfer heat to the water. Some models have a backup electric heat element to help during periods of high use.

Did you see a building science or energy efficiency term you did not understand? Check out our glossary.

What are the benefits of heat pump water heaters?

  • Saves energy: Uses dramatically less energy than all other types of water heaters.
  • Climate friendly: Where hydroelectricity or other renewable resources are available, such as in BC, heat pump water heating systems provide a clean-energy alternative to natural gas that reduces your home water heating carbon footprint by over 95%.
  • Reliability: Provides the same reliable hot water you are accustomed to.
  • Smart controls: Adjust operating mode to find the setting that best meets your hot water needs.

Did you see a building science or energy efficiency term you did not understand? Check out our glossary.

How do I ensure that I get the right heat pump water heater for my home?

Make sure you get an ENERGY STAR® certified heat pump water heater that is listed under Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance Tier 2 and Tier 3 Qualified Products.  This ensures that you are getting a heat pump hot water heater that can perform well in colder climates. Getting optimal performance from an ENERGY STAR certified heat pump water heater depends on more than just choosing the right equipment.

  • Consult with experts: Ask your builder or energy advisor how this ENERGY STAR certified feature could transform your home.
  • Buy quality: Look for an ENERGY STAR certified heat pump hot water system to ensure a quality system.
  • Use an accredited installer: Use an accredited TECA (Thermal Environmental Comfort Association of BC), ASTT (Association of Applied Technologists and Technicians), or HRAI (Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada) approved installer.
  • Ensure optimal performance: The quality of the installation can have an enormous effect on system performance and home comfort. Ask your contractor questions to ensure your system is properly sized and installed for optimal performance.
  • Maintain your equipment: Similar to servicing a vehicle, preventive maintenance is a good investment to minimize future problems. Arrange for annual servicing. Examine the heat pump’s filter, lines and drain pan regularly. Consult the owner’s manual for more details.

Did you see a building science or energy efficiency term you did not understand? Check out our glossary.

What are the costs of a heat pump water heater?

The average cost for purchasing and installing a heat pump water heater ranges from $1,500 to $3,000. Be sure to get multiple quotes to compare costs, installation approach and warranties.

Did you see a building science or energy efficiency term you did not understand? Check out our glossary.

Where should I install a heat pump water heater?

Because heat pump water heaters pull warmth from the surrounding air, it is important to install them in an appropriate location. According to Natural Resources Canada, you should avoid installing your heat pump water heater in the heated part of your home, because that would simply increase the load on your space heating system. If you have no other choice than to install it in a heated space, ensure that it’s not placed in living spaces sensitive to colder temperatures or near a thermostat. An ideal location is a semi-heated space such as an unfinished basement or garage. Some heat pump water heaters can be ducted so that they can be placed in a heated space while using ducts to draw air from, and vent to, an adjacent outdoor or semi-heated space. There are also ‘split systems’ which allow the compressor that draws in air to be located outside your home, and the water tank to stay inside.

Make sure to follow all the manufacturer’s installation guidelines.

Did you see a building science or energy efficiency term you did not understand? Check out our glossary.