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Heat Pump Water Heaters (HPWH)


Heat pump technology should be known to most homeowners since it has to do with heating and cooling your home. A heat pump water heater (HPWH) applies the same method to heat water, but its efficiency gain is 2-3 times more than that of a standard electric water heater. Contemporary heat pump water heaters contain a storage tank, compressor and fan all in one unit. They are more expensive than standard tank-style units, but they will pay off in the long run. Plus a lot of utility companies come up with offers that significantly bring down the cost of the unit and its installation costs.


A compressor in the HPWH is run by means of electricity, extracting heat from the surrounding air and transferring that energy to heat water in a storage tank. HPWH works like a refrigerator in reverse – a refrigerator moves heat from its interior to the room where it is situated. An HPWH vice versa transfers heat from the room to a storage tank, and does it effectively. Actually an HPWH is capable of transferring 2.5 times more energy in comparison to electricity it consumes.

Heat pump water heaters are more suitable for southern regions of the USA because of the warmer temperatures there. In this case backup resistance elements of the HPWH (like those of a traditional water heater) will come in handy for situations when the room temperature is not high enough. In order to reach the most effective operation levels, most heat pump water heaters are designed for a temperature range of 40-90ºF (4.4º–32.2ºC) all year round.


Heat pump water heaters must be installed in places that remain in the 40º–90ºF (4.4º–32.2ºC) temperature range for the whole year and allow for about 1,000 cubic feet (28.3 cubic meters) of air space around the water heater. Discharged air can be exhausted either to the room or outside. A furnace room would be perfect for installing your heat pump water heater since it produces excess heat. Note that HPWHs will not work efficiently in a cold area, because they usually cool the spaces they are located in. Another option would be an air-source heat pump system that combines heating, cooling, and water heating functions in one unit. Such systems extract their heat indoors from the outdoor air in winter and from the indoor air in summer.


Before purchasing a heat pump water heater, you should consider some of its pros and cons during the process of selecting one. The following are the most important points:


  • Will reduce electricity bills by $200-300 each year
  • Price and installation costs (including special offers) are usually less than cost of a standard tank-type unit installation
  • Some tanks of HPWHs are stainless steel, providing a good warranty
  • Digital controls allow the homeowner to set efficiency levels of the heater to his/her preference
  • Perfect for a garage, basement or any other area without air-conditioning


  • Most HPWH units are large and might require plumbing and installation modifications
  • A condensate line pump will be needed if the HPWH is installed in a basement
  • The air filter in HPWHs has to be replaced every 1-2 years
  • It is quite loud and will make noise when installed next to a bedroom

If you are a homeowner who has a conventional tank electric water heater, wanting to replace it due to old age, leaks, reduced efficiency or simply to cut on your annual electricity bills, a heat pump water heater might become a great solution for you! The average home exploiting a conventional electric tank water heater spends approximately $500 each year on heating water at the house. A heat pump water heater will reduce those annual costs in half. Sometimes the cost of buying and installing a heat pump water heater is less than installing a new electric tank water heater.

If you need to find out more about heat pump water heaters, contact our HPWH experts from Downey Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning and we will try to answer all your questions.

Residential & Commercial Professional Services

Downey, CA 90241 | (562) 646-1221