Overview view of a mechanic adjusting a heat pump water heater

Heat pump water heaters have been praised for their eco-friendly carbon reduction, but they offer many other benefits. 

If you’re thinking about switching to one of these new water heaters, it’s crucial to decide if the cost is worth it. After all, you’ll likely have the appliance for over a decade.

In this post, you’ll find out if heat pump water heaters are worth the expense, whether or not you should pay for professional installation, and a few downsides you should know about this water heater variety.

So let’s get started.

Are Heat Pump Water Heaters Worth the Switch?

Switching to a heat pump water heater is worth the cost because you’ll save $300 or more annually, the unit lasts much longer than a tanked heater, and you’ll have to replace parts much less often. However, the initial installation is more expensive, so you’ll spend more upfront.

You might have to spend a couple of thousand dollars more on a heat pump water heater, but they’re all-around better than traditional water heater tanks. They offer massive advantages, including reduced energy consumption and fewer carbon emissions. These environmentally-friendly water heaters also last longer.

Here’s a list of each of these benefits and why they’re worth the investment:

  • You’ll save money in the long run because they pay themselves offForbes estimates the average household saves about $330 per year on their energy bills once they switch to heat pump water heaters. These savings is because heat pump heaters pull heat from nearby air rather than requiring loads of electricity or gas.
  • Heat pump unitslast longer – they often last up to twice as long as water heater tanks (or more), so you won’t have to spend money on a new one any time soon. In other words, you’ll likely have to buy two water heater tanks in the time it takes one heat pump system to go bad.
  • Reduced maintenance frequency – although you should do annual maintenance on your HVAC and plumbing systems, you won’t have to replace parts as often with a heat pump water heater. These systems are designed to withstand temperature fluctuations and wear and tear.
  • Some jurisdictions offer tax relief for people with heat pump water heaters – check with your local government to determine if you qualify for carbon emission tax credits. Some locations allow you to write off your heater, saving you hundreds of dollars the first year after purchase.

If you’re still on the fence about getting a heat pump water heater, it’s best to know the downsides of these appliances. While they’re worth the cost for most homeowners, you might be curious why some people opt for tanked water heater models. 

Let’s discuss these factors in the following section.

Potential Drawbacks of Heat Pump Water Heaters

The downsides of heat pump water heaters include their high cost, increased installation expenses, and the fact that they take a little longer to heat the water. In addition, replacement parts often cost more than replacement components for water heater tanks, but you don’t need to switch them out as often.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of each of these potential cost problems:

  • Heat pump water heaters can be expensiveConsumer Affairs explains a low-end heat pump water heater costs about $1,100, which is significantly more than a mid-range water heater tank. A top-shelf model will cost two to three times higher than that, which doesn’t include the installation.
  • High installation costs – unfortunately, heat pump water heaters usually cost the same amount to install as the unit itself. Sometimes, you’ll have to pay more for the initial installation. The good news is that replacement installations are cheaper because the plumbing is already done.
A technician adjusting the settings of a heat pump water heater
  • Longer heating time required – water heater tanks quickly heat the water with gas or electricity. Heat pump water heaters take a little bit longer to heat the water because they use a little energy and a lot of surrounding air. However, you’ll still enjoy several gallons of stored water.
  • Maintenance costs could be slightly higher than with a tanked unit – replacement parts cost more because the whole appliance costs more. This consideration could be a downside for those needing to repair their water heaters once they get outside the warranty agreement period.

On the bright side, most of these disadvantages go away when considering long-term savings. You might have to spend a lot initially, but you’ll get it back over several years. Furthermore, the longer heating times typically only last a few seconds, meaning you won’t wait too much longer.

Why Do Heat Pump Water Heaters Cost More?

Heat pump water heaters cost more because they’re harder to install and require special permits. In addition, they save a lot of money, meaning companies charge more upfront. However, it’s worth noting that you can reduce the costs by DIY installing the water heater or removing the old unit before the technicians arrive.

So, why do most companies charge more for heat pump water heaters? 

Consider these four explanations:

  • They’re the most energy-efficient way to upgrade your plumbing system – reducing your carbon output isn’t cheap (in most cases). However, it always pays dividends down the road. Of course, you’ll have to pay more if you want to switch to an eco-friendly plumbing or HVAC system.
  • A complete overhaul of all nearby plumbing is required – heat pump water heaters pull air from different places and need new wires (which means you’ll also likely need an electrician or a technician who can do both jobs). However, after installing the tank, you can replace it with a like-for-like model with minimal plumbing changes.
  • Some companies charge disposal fees – traditional water heaters are bulky and heavy. According to Carbon Swith, if you don’t get rid of the tank yourself, many companies will do it for a fee. Make sure you get the price when you request a quote. Water heaters must be disposed of properly, often taking them to the dump.
  • Popular demand means companies don’t have to lower prices – everyone wants to reduce their energy bills and save money. Heat pump water heaters offer some of the best ways to improve your financial future. Unfortunately, the more people who want these water heaters, the more likely prices are to stay slightly expensive.

Heat pump water heaters cost more because they’re the best water heaters you can get. They’re worth the price hike if you prefer energy savings, reduced carbon emissions, and better performance. Remember, many companies offer payment plans, so you don’t have to pay for everything all at once.

Is the Installation Cost Worth It?

The installation cost is worth it because you’ll get a warranty from the technician. Installation warranties are separate from manufacturer warranties—when you get an installation warranty, anything the technician does wrong while installing the water heater.

Additionally, DIYing the installation often voids warranties. If you want to install the heat pump water heater without professional assistance, ask the manufacturer if you can keep the contract. 

A homeowner makes adjustments to the foam insulation attached to the pipes atop his water heater tank

It’s not worth it if you lose out on fixing potential defects for free. Many heat pump water heaters have warranties that last several years.

What to Know Before Switching to a Heat Pump Water Heater

Before switching to a heat pump water heater, knowing you’ll save more money by getting the correct size is essential. If your water heater is too small, it’ll have to work extra hard, which uses more energy. 

On the other hand, a large heat pump unit will cost hundreds or thousands of dollars more upfront.

Fortunately, it’s easy to size a heat pump water heater. Choosing the right size should be based on the amount of hot water you need, how many plumbing fixtures are attached to the water heater, and how much storage you prefer. You should also consider how much space you have to spare since substantial heat pump water heaters require more room.

A hot water heater in the corner of a garage with concrete floor and white walls.

You can also get water heater insurance. If you don’t want to spend too much on repairs caused by various accidents, you’ll have many replacement costs covered. Heat pump water heaters cost a lot, so it’s more than worth protecting your investment. This insurance often protects against damage caused by faulty water heaters, too.

Final Thoughts

There are numerous benefits to having a heat pump water heater, all of which make the price tag worth it.

Heat pump water heaters are becoming quite popular because they help people save a lot of money in the long run. They’re also kept out of the way, limiting the space consumed by large water heater tanks.


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