Energy Savings and Breakeven Cost for Residential Heat Pump Water Heaters in the United States

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) have recently reemerged in the U.S. residential water heating market and have the potential to provide homeowners with significant energy savings. However, there are questions as to the actual performance and energy savings potential of these units, in particular in regards to the heat pump's performance in unconditioned space and the impact of the heat pump onspace heating and cooling loads when it is located in conditioned space. To help answer these questions, simulations were performed of a HPWH in both conditioned and unconditioned space at over 900 locations across the continental United States and Hawaii. Simulations included a Building America benchmark home so that any interaction between the HPWH and the home's HVAC equipment could becaptured. Comparisons were performed to typical gas and electric water heaters to determine the energy savings potential and cost effectiveness of a HPWH relative to these technologies. HPWHs were found to have a significant source energy savings potential when replacing typical electric water heaters, but only saved source energy relative to gas water heater in the most favorable installationlocations in the southern US. When replacing an electric water heater, the HPWH is likely to break even in California, the southern US, and parts of the northeast in most situations. However, the HPWH will only break even when replacing a gas water heater in a few southern states.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages77
StatePublished - 2013

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5500-58594


  • breakeven cost
  • electric water heaters
  • gas water heater
  • heat pump water heater
  • HPWH
  • water heating


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