Water heaters work tirelessly to provide us with hot showers, clean clothes, and bathed pets. In the United States, the majority of these machines consume significant amounts of energy.

However, there is a technology that offers a more efficient and cost-effective solution for heating water, without relying on fossil fuels: electric heat pump water heaters. These appliances have proven to be two to four times more efficient than the gas and electric-resistance models that are commonly used in the US.

According to Joseph Wachunas, a project manager at the nonprofit New Buildings Institute, heat pump water heaters are not only beneficial for the environment but also for consumers’ wallets.

The most efficient heat pump water heaters use up to 85 percent less energy than gas and electric-resistance heaters. By replacing a gas-powered unit with a heat pump water heater, an average of one ton of carbon emissions can be avoided annually.

Cost savings

Heat pump water heaters do come with a higher initial price. They typically cost between $1,500 and $3,000, which is more than double the price of gas and electric-resistance heaters. Additionally, installation costs can be higher, especially if contractors are unfamiliar with the technology.

However, the energy efficiency of heat pump water heaters results in significant savings over time. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a family of four could save about $200 per year by switching from a gas water heater, or nearly $550 per year by switching from electric-resistance.

Over the product’s expected lifespan of 13 to 15 years, this can add up to more than $7,000 in savings. In fact, the payback period for switching from an electric-resistance model is typically just two to four years. This makes heat pump water heaters one of the most financially viable clean energy technologies available.

Government incentives

There are also generous government incentives for heat pump water heaters. US taxpayers can claim the 25C tax credit, which reimburses 30 percent of the installation and equipment costs for a heat pump water heater costing under $2,000. According to Canary Media, this tax credit resets annually.

Moreover, upcoming rebates will provide free heat pump water heaters to low-income families for new units up to $1,750.

Performance in cold climates

A common concern regarding heat pump water heaters is that they won’t work in cold northern states. However, there’s mounting evidence that this concern is unfounded.

Heat pump water heaters work in temperatures as low as -25 Fahrenheit (-32 Celsius), making them appropriate for virtually any US climate. Certified heat pump water heaters are found throughout the Northern United States.

Interestingly, HVAC heat pumps (a closely related technology) are more popular in Maine than in any other US state. Roughly 20% of new homes in Maine have HVAC heat pumps, three times the US national average. Maine is the fourth-coldest of the 50 states.

Image Source: @EricPoppen1