Is a Hybrid Water Heater Worth it?

With energy prices rising and heating being a heavy hitter on household bills, you probably asked yourself “is a hybrid water heater worth it”?

These energy-saving, environmentally friendly alternatives to classic electric systems can significantly reduce your energy bills without sacrificing that desirable hot water.
But what exactly is a hybrid water heater, and how do they work? We break down what you need to know about these ingenious systems and help you make a personal choice on whether a hybrid water heater is worth your time and money.

What is a Hybrid Water Heater?

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A hybrid water heater, also known as a heat pump water heater, is the latest in energy saving technology. A hybrid system works by drawing heat from the surrounding air to heat the water inside while reducing energy consumption. It’s estimated that hybrid systems can use up to 63 per cent less energy than traditional electric water heaters. [1] Considering that water heaters account for 17 – 32% of the energy consumed in your home, the less used, the better.

The heat pump itself is featured at the top of a water heater and can often be recognised by its unique shape or different colour. Heat pumps can be purchased separately and integrated into an existing water heater. You can also purchase hybrid water heaters that have heat pumps built in, making this a suitable option for those ready to install a new hot water system.

These innovative systems are also better for the environment as they make use of a renewable energy source. Install one of these, and you naturally reduce your home’s carbon footprint.

Hybrid water heaters excel in warmer conditions, although their performance can be limited in cold climates. The latest systems are designed to counter the cold, but some models may benefit from a booster attachment. These do incur additional fees, but the savings on running costs can outweigh the initial costs.

How Does a Heat Pump Work?

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A heat pump works on the general principle that it’s easier and requires less energy to move heat rather than to generate it from scratch.

A hybrid water heater with heat pump technology draws heat from the surrounding air and transfers it at a higher temperature into the tank, heating the water for use.

A small amount of electricity is used to power a fan which draws air into the system and through refrigerant gas filled coils. A chemical reaction occurs which heats the air, and a compressor pressurises it before a heat exchanger directs it to the stored water.

It’s also reported that heat pumps which make use of scroll compressors provide 10° to 15°F hotter air than the models without. So, an investigation into the parts of each water heater becomes a worthwhile endeavor. [2]

Many people refer to the heat pump as a refrigerator in reverse. It operates in the same way as a fridge, but instead of removing the heat, it’s captured and utilised instead of going to waste.

Hybrid water heaters are considered two or three times more efficient than conventional electric water heaters, so there’s potential for significant savings on your heating bills. There is no doubt in asking if “Is a Hybrid Water Heater Worth it?”

 

What to Look for in a Hybrid Water Heater?

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When it’s time to upgrade to a new water heater of any kind, you will want to make sure that it’s the right model for you and your family. Take into consideration factors such as size, energy rating and reviews of units available from reliable brands.

Size: The heat pump water heater is available in many sizes with options designed to suit the requirements of growing families. When selecting the optimal size for your family, the rule of thumb is 15 gallons per person. So a two person residence will require at least 30 gallons of water, and a four person household will want at least 60 gallons. This ensures there’s always enough hot water on demand.

Energy Rating: Hybrid systems are considered very efficient thanks to their heat pump technology. Still, it doesn’t hurt to look for the most energy efficient model. This could help reduce running costs even further. You can find the energy rating of a particular model via the brand’s official website, third party sellers or on a sticker located on the unit itself.

Your most recent bill will state how much you currently pay for electricity per kilowatt. You can use this information and the energy rating of a model to estimate running costs by the month, quarter, year, and lifespan of a unit.

Reputation: Before making any large purchases, you should always do research and read reviews online. A combination of user reviews and expert reviews on the desirable systems is the best approach. If you’re after quality, stick with brands with good reputations and make sure the particular unit has all the desired features.

Brands including Rinnai, Rheem, Chromagen and Midea all have reputable hybrid water heaters. One particular water heater – the Rheem ProTerra Hybrid – is said to use less energy over a year than a classic 100 Watt incandescent light bulb.

Is a Hybrid Water Heater Worth it?

Absolutely! Hybrid water heaters do cost more to purchase than the standard electric systems, but the energy saving and environmental benefits make upgrading well worth the price of admission. If solar power or geothermal is unfeasible, and they are in most cases, then you couldn’t do any better than a reliable, energy efficient hybrid water heater.