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The future of home water heating: How heat pump technology is changing the game


(BPT) - The Department of Energy (DOE) recently released higher energy-efficiency standards for water heaters that will go into effect in 2029. Focusing on decarbonization, the new standards emphasize how highly efficient water heaters, especially heat pump water heaters, will result in lower energy consumption and in turn, potentially save Americans billions in household energy costs.

Ultimately, the new regulation aims to improve performance and increase energy efficiency in the home, while decreasing overall household emissions.

Since Rheem®, a leading manufacturer of water heaters, launched its first heat pump water heater in 2009, its technology and efficiency has continued to evolve. This cutting-edge technology relies on moving heat from outside the unit to warm the water within. In fact, some units can be up to four times more efficient than traditional models.

Installing a heat pump water heater can make a home more sustainable, while providing a high-performing, reliable hot water solution.

Tax incentives for energy-efficient home upgrades

Growing in popularity, it is estimated that by 2029, the majority of electric water heaters installed in the U.S. will be heat pump water heaters.

To help encourage adoption of the heat pump water heaters, tax programs such as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) include incentives for homeowners to upgrade and install environmentally friendly equipment and appliances throughout the home. Since going into effect in 2023, the IRA set aside $8.8 billion for consumer rebates on high-efficiency products to cover the cost of the appliance and the associated installation costs.

By taking advantage of the tax credit, homeowners can reduce their tax bill between $2,000 and $3,200, offsetting some of the upfront costs of making energy-efficient home improvements. Specifically, the tax credit for a heat pump water heater is 30% of the unit cost, plus installation up to $2,000. Additional tax credits are available if electric panel upgrades are necessary.

There are also long-term savings to consider. Designed to heat water in a more efficient manner, heat pump water heaters reduce energy usage, which can save consumers hundreds of dollars annually on their utility bills. In the end, these savings add up and can potentially help cover the cost for a heat pump water heater within less than two years of a unit’s installation.

Advancing convenience: Smart features and innovations

Heat pump water heaters address a major consumer ask: the ability to have control of home equipment from anywhere. As heat pump technology continues to evolve, manufacturers are integrating smart technology into heat pump water heater systems.

It’s now common to include temperature control via a wireless mobile app, leak detection tools, automatic water shut-off and more, making heat pump water heaters among the most intelligent and controllable pieces of technology in a home.

Energy efficiency is a key driver for heat pump technology. The Rheem ProTerra® Hybrid heat pump water heater allows homeowners to benefit from energy efficiency and participate in available demand response programs. Benefits include monitoring energy usage of the water heater and additional utility savings.

Rheem continues to find ways to innovate on this technology, recently adding to the ProTerra line with a 120V Plug-in model, making it simple for homeowners to replace a gas unit with a heat pump water heater. The plug-in units are easy to install with little to no electrical work, no venting or gas line requirements and Wi-Fi capabilities.

Installing a heat pump water heater can make a home more sustainable and energy efficient, while also providing a customizable and controllable hot water solution.