What is a hybrid water heater?

01/04/2019

Water heaters are common among the homeowners in the USA. There are various types of these appliances. But unless you’ve had a broken water heater at some point, you probably don’t give much thought to that large unit in the closet or basement of your house. And it is ok – until the water heater stops functioning and you experience cold showers, water heaters aren’t usually on most people’s minds.

Presently there’s a trend in plumbing industry to make water heaters more energy-efficient. This means significant energy savings, because approximately 20% of a home’s energy expenditure belongs to its water heater. These savings are both profitable for the environment and your home budget. It’s proven that hybrid water heaters could save the average family hundreds and even thousands of dollars in energy costs annually.

So then what is a hybrid water heater and how does it work?

A hybrid water heater, aka heat pump water heater, is a heater that merges a traditional water heater and a tankless type in one unit. It is like a hybrid car that combines mechanical components of a traditional gas engine and an electric engine. A hybrid water heater blends together the mechanics of both conventional and electric water heaters.

Heat pump (hybrid) water heaters use electricity to transfer heat from one place to another instead of producing heat directly. Consequently, they can be much more energy-efficient than their conventional electric counterparts. To move the heat, heat pumps work like a refrigerator but in reverse.

hybrid water heater

How does a hybrid water heater work?

Standard electric water heaters use a resistive element to turn electricity directly into heat, which is transferred directly to the water. Gas water heaters use natural gas or propane to ignite a burner, send it unto the bottom of the tank to create heat. A heat pump water heater, on the other hand, draws in ambient heat from the surrounding air. Heat in the air is absorbed by the refrigerant inside the evaporator coil and cooled dehumidified air is exhausted. The refrigerant then pumps through a compressor which further increases the temperature. Heat is transferred throughout the tank by a water or refrigeration circulation process. This process of moving heat instead of generating heat makes the heat pump water heater two-three times more energy-efficient than a standard water heater, saving you money and energy. Many heat pump water heaters are considered hybrid units that combine heat transfer and electric element technology to provide faster recovery time during high demand periods. In addition to heating your water the heat pump water heater also cools and dehumidifies the air in the surrounding space as it transfers the heat to your water heater.

A hot air is transferred to the water tank via hybrid water heater when needed instead of heating the water on demand and using extra electricity. These hybrid types are often built with extra settings which can help you to cut down expenses on your water bill or be prepared in case of using a large amount of water.

How much does a hybrid water heater cost?

Hybrid water heaters are expensive. Although there are some budget options on the market, hybrid heaters can cost $2500-3000 per unit without including installation costs. However, the energy saving features of a hybrid water heater could save you enough money over time to be worth the initial investment. The government Energy Star program estimates that a hybrid water heater can save you between $1,320 and $5,560 in lifetime savings depending on your family size.

So if you are planning to buy a new water heater, remember that the cost of operating your water heater is as important as the cost to initially buy the unit. Consider buying an energy-efficient heat pump (hybrid) water heater to save money and energy over the lifetime service of your water heater. Consult our water heater specialists at Brea/Orange County Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning to assist you in choosing the right water heater model for your home.

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