What is a Heat Pump Hot Water System?

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In comparison to conventional electric or gas water heaters, a heat pump water heater is much more energy efficient. This is because they have the ability to absorb the heat from the atmosphere and transfer it to the water tank.

This process is powered by electricity. With the ability to last upwards of 15 years, using a heat pump water heater can help you save over 70% on heating expenses over its life span, compared to a traditional electric tank, making it an excellent investment for those living in a bigger household.

A heat pump water heater is also a more environmentally friendly option as they have the ability to dramatically reduce your carbon footprint.

However, before installing a hot water heat pump, you must consider your financial position as the initial upfront costs can be higher than that of the conventional water heater. Nevertheless, over the life of the system, you will bank savings because of the much lower running costs.

What are the benefits of a heat pump water heater?

Many Australians in the past overlooked heat pump water heaters when looking to upgrade a hot water system. When professionally installed, heat pump hot water systems can reduce water heating costs by up to 70%, compared with a standard electric hot water system. This makes them almost three times more efficient than the standard gas or electric water heaters that many Australians have.

However, the main issue many people have with them is that they are slightly more expensive than traditional water heaters.

How is a heat pump water heater different?

For decades, traditional electric and gas hot water systems have been the go-to options for heating water in homes. But there’s a newer, more efficient kid on the block: The heat pump hot water heater system.

What sets heat pump hot water systems apart is their innovative method of operation. Instead of generating heat directly, as conventional heaters do, heat pump water heaters work by moving heat from one place to another using electricity. A bit like magic, but in reality, it’s a clever application of thermodynamics.

Just as your refrigerator removes heat from its interior to keep your food cool, a heat pump hot water system extracts heat from the surrounding air or ground and transfers it to the water in your tank, heating it up.

This process may sound complex, but it’s actually quite simple. A fan pulls in air from the surrounding environment, and a refrigerant fluid inside the system absorbs the heat from this air.

The heated refrigerant is then compressed, which increases its temperature even further. This high-temperature heat is then transferred to the water in the tank, raising its temperature to the desired level. Finally, the refrigerant cools down and returns to its original state, ready to start the cycle again.

So what exactly are the benefits?

The first significant benefit of a heat pump hot water system is its efficiency. These systems are far more energy efficient compared to electric storage heaters or LP gas heaters. The extra efficiency comes from the fact they extract heat from the air around them rather than burning energy through combustion.

Heat pumps use a minuscule amount of electricity to run the compressor and the modern units like the Reclaim heat pump do not have any toxic refrigerants, as they operate on CO2 gas. Purchasing this system type can reduce your carbon footprint significantly. Since they have higher energy efficiency and use recycled heat, they also allow for a reduction in your energy bills.

The major downside of this system is that it needs to operate more efficiently in colder climates. Since they draw heat from the air, generating hot water may take a little longer in colder months. Hybrid options allow electricity to be used as a backup for situations like this. Otherwise, it would help if you gave the system more time to produce hot water.

installer working on heat pump hot water system
heat pump hot water systems offer an innovative solution to reduce electricity consumption for hot water generation

So are they worth it?

With a higher initial upfront cost ranging from $2,000 to $4000, depending on the available rebate, not including installation these systems will set you back more than traditional hot water systems.

However, for the average family of three, having one of these systems will save you roughly $500 a year on your electricity bill. With an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years, a heat pump hot water system can save you approximately $7,500.

Not only this, but you will also reduce your carbon footprint significantly compared to other traditional water heaters. If you have a solar system installed on your property, these savings can increase dramatically as you produce hot water virtually for free.

Therefore, if you are looking to upgrade your hot water system as it is coming to the end of its life, consider forking extra cash for a heat pump hot water system, especially in larger households. This is because the savings can increase in larger homes, making them an overall even better investment.

What to look out for

If you have decided to purchase a heat pump hot water system, there are a few considerations you will need to go over when selecting which one is best for you. Here are some questions you should be asking a professional:

  • Is there a lengthy product warranty?
  • What kind of refrigerant is used in the system?
  • Is there a timer and controller included with the system?
  • How many litres of hot water will the heat pump generate in 1 hour?
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