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Have you ever stopped for a while and given a thought to your existing water heating system? For most of us, we direct our attention to this gadget only when it stops working after 10-15 years or its tank starts corroding and leaking, leading to a soggy basement, garage, or utility room. Now, if you are in this situation and planning to replace your water heater, you can consider a hybrid water heater or a heat pump water heater (HPWH). This green and economic choice can help you save on your energy bills. So, today, let’s introduce you this category of water heaters. Below is everything you need to know about HPWHs.

Read more: How to Handle an Unexpected Water Heater Leak

What is a hybrid water heater?

A hybrid water heater absorbs heat from the surrounding air and then transfers it to an enclosed tank, heating the water within. However, when water demand is at its peak, it reverses to the standard electric resistance heat generating technology. Therefore, this model is often referred to as a hybrid water heater.

How does a hybrid water heater work?

heat pump water heaterPhoto by Morticide on Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

The hybrid mode models combine the technologies of both the conventional tank and tankless water heaters. In case of the tank versions, heat is generated from the bottom. Air rises through the enclosure and exits from the top, resulting in heat wastage. In the tankless type, heat is generated from the bottom as well. But water travels through copper pipes. However, their major drawback is that they don’t have space for water storage.

Hybrid water heaters use pipes which allow multiple passes of heat, which warms up water efficiently. They also include a reservoir that holds water, ensuring no shortage of hot water supply throughout the season.

Read more: An Insight Into Different Types Of Water Heaters

The technology explained in detail

A hybrid water heater comes with a fan installed on top of the tank. It draws in the surrounding air by means of a radiator-like grid which comprises tubes filled with a liquid refrigerant, having a lower boiling point. The air’s heat raises its temperature and converts it into a gaseous state. A compressor increases the pressure of this gas, which, in turn, is circulated into the cold tank water, via a pump. Thereby, the temperature of the stored water rises, whereas the hot gas cools back into its liquid state. This refrigerant is then again pumped back into the radiator.

Is a hybrid water heater efficient?

Water heaters need to be efficient, mainly because of the fact that they can result in huge energy cost savings. Since almost 15%- 20% of your total energy usage is accountable to your water heater, savings on this amount shall benefit you, both in terms of bills and maintaining the environment.

Hybrid water heaters use electricity, but this is quite less when compared to standard electric water heaters. Grid power is required only to operate the fan and compressor. Hence, they can result in cost savings of $250 – $350 annually, in terms of energy bills. Moreover, their byproduct is cool, dehumidified air, which you can vent out into another room. This is indeed a blessing during the hotter seasons.

Read more: How To Regulate Hot Water Usage To Decrease Energy Costs

How much does a hybrid water heater cost?

A hybrid water heater’s cost falls in between the tank and tankless models. A unit costs anywhere between $1000 – $2000. Installation costs can vary between $300 – $500. Therefore, the total price amounts to $1300 – $2500 approximately. However, do note that several states and power companies give tax rebates and refunds if you go for Energy Star models.

What are the pros of hybrid water heaters?

  • As we already mentioned, water heaters that use hybrid operating modes are very energy efficient. They have electric elements to provide extra water during the more colder months. But, as reported by most users, they seldom need to use the back up electric power.
  • They feature a control panel, via which you can set the device to the required water temperature. It also allows you to choose among three modes — heat pump only, all electric, or hybrid. While the hybrid setting is perfect for daily use, the electric setting is ideal during periods of high demand when you need hot water immediately.
  • Additionally Energy Star certified HPWH for water heating gives huge environmental benefits, preventing greenhouse emissions. Therefore, this is a sustainable option for your home.

What are the cons of hybrid water heaters?

  • An HPWH comes with a lifespan of around 10 years, which is much less than tankless and a bit less than the standard storage models.
  • Hybrid water heaters require more space to operate, at least 1000 cubic feet.
  • Some HPWHs are noisy. This is an important consideration when you are planning to install one next to any living area such as the bedroom.

Final take

Before buying a hybrid water heater from a certain manufacturer, go through the company’s website. Consider the energy savings and sizing specifications. See product details such as the insulation that surrounds the heater. Select a professional distributor and installer who has the requisite experience in doing this type of jobs. If you do careful and thorough research before getting one for your home, there’s absolutely no reason to worry. You can get the perfect model that shall suit both your requirements and budget.

Read more: A Comprehensive Water Heater Installation Cost Guide

Hybrid Water Heater: Everything You Need To Know was last modified: July 14th, 2019 by Anisha Dutta
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