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  • Tony Pappas

Getting into hot water

The Solar Initiative is expanding its subsidy program to include heat-pump powered hot water heaters. The total subsidy of two-thirds of the cost, up to a maximum of $6,000, remains in force for year-round occupied homes, but now hot water heaters can be included in the installation costs.

Hot water heat pumps work by moving heat from one place (air) to another (water) rather than creating heat through electrical resistance or burning fossil fuels. Up until now the Solar Initiative has confined our purview to space heating (and cooling and dehumidifying), but now products using the same heat pump technology for heating are widely available. So besides the subsidy, why switch or start with a heat pump hot water heater? Three reasons:

1. Efficiency and savings. By moving heat instead of generating it, heat pumps are about three times more efficient than previous technologies. Although heat pump hot water heaters cost more initially, they are projected to pay you back from utility costs savings in about ten years, while its life time expectancy is about 15 years, usually longer than conventional hot water heaters.

2. Ecological concerns. Since electricity can be generated from renewable sources (such as the PV panels we are also subsidizing), hot water generated from this source can be more friendly to the environment.

3. Drier basements. Because heat pump hot water heaters tend to be noisier than electrical resistance heaters, and because they need a volume of air to move heat from, we recommend they be installed in your basement. But this has an upside: this technology condenses water from the air in your basement, which can be drained outside, leaving your basement substantially drier – and possibly watering your garden at the same time. Wallet, earth, comfort; what are you waiting for?

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