Our Sustainable Cities – All About Heat Pump Water Heaters


Last week we talked about using air source heat pumps to efficiently heat and cool South Portland homes. In addition to air source heat pumps that heat and cool your living space, there are also hot water heat pump systems that provide reliable, affordable hot water for your home.

This week, we’re going to focus on heat pump water heaters: how they work, why they’re beneficial, and your options when it comes to buying.

What is a heat pump water heater?

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Heat pump water heaters use ultra-efficient technology to draw heat from a room into a tank for heating, similar to how an air conditioner works. Because these systems move heat from one place to another, rather than generating it directly, they are about two to three times more energy efficient than traditional electric water heaters. Additionally, they have the ability to store large amounts of hot water, making them an extremely reliable system.

Heat pump water heaters are sometimes called hybrid electric water heaters because of their ability to switch to resistive heating elements when demand exceeds what the heat pump can produce. This means that Maine households can be sure they will save significant amounts of hot water and energy year-round.

The benefits of heat pump water heaters

According to Efficiency Maine, tens of thousands of Maine have heat pump water heaters. They’re popular because of their many benefits: produce plenty of hot water, save on energy costs for the home, dehumidify the basement (where the heat pump water heater is), and heat the water at the same time.

Considering that about one-fifth of a home’s energy consumption is used to heat water, installing a heat pump water heater can save a home a lot of money. Typically, using one unit of electricity will result in three units of heat being added to the water in the heat pump water heater tank. Because of this high efficiency, ENERGY STAR estimates that installing a heat pump water heater could save the average Maine home more than $300 per year and more than $3,500 over the life of the system.

Additionally, many of these systems come with a 10+ year warranty, ensuring lower costs and reliable hot water over the life of the system. Additionally, with current incentives, these systems can be cheaper than traditional electric water heaters.

Another benefit of installing heat pump water heaters in your home is that these systems dehumidify while heating the water. In fact, they can remove about a gallon of water from the air every day.

Get a heat pump water heater (with the help of Efficiency Maine)

Efficiency Maine acts as a hub for heat pump water heater information. The site has detailed information on installers and retailers, and breaks down the logistics and benefits of these systems.

Efficiency Maine offers substantial discounts and financing for efficient electrical systems including heat pump water heaters. They currently offer a $750 mail-in rebate for heat pump water heaters. It is estimated that the energy savings from your system can pay for installation in as little as two years. In addition, Efficiency Maine offers free heaters to eligible low-income households and offers multiple instant discounts at various stores.

For more information on heat pump water heaters in our city, rebate opportunities, and retailers and installers, visit efficientmaine.com.

Our Sustainable City is a recurring column in Sentry that provides residents with news and information about sustainability initiatives in South Portland. Follow the Office of Sustainability on Instagram and Facebook @soposustainability.

Mia Ambroiggio is a member of the Greater Portland Government Recovery Corps and serves in the Office of Sustainability.she can be [email protected]

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