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Heat Pump Water Heater

Installed correctly, heat pump water heaters can cut utility expenses while providing additional cooling and dehumidification during hot weather.

Preparation
The existing hot and cold water pipes around the water heater shall be inspected for water leaks before installation, and any leaks found shall be reported to the homeowner for repairs before continuing the work.
The new replacement water heater shall be sized based on the first-hour rating.
Installation
The new water heater shall be ENERGY STAR certified and shall be installed in compliance with manufacturer’s specifications and relevant industry standards.
The new heat pump water heater shall be installed in a space with adequate clearance to ensure efficient operation, maintenance, and flow. The minimum space shall be 750 ft³ or as specified by the manufacturer. If the space where the water heater is located is smaller than specified, the manufacturer may require that the space be connected to a larger space or to the outdoors via a louvered grille in a wall or door or via ducting provided by the manufacturer.
Where water leakage from the water heater could cause damage to the home, a building code-compliant emergency drain pan shall be installed with a ¾" drain line or larger running to a drain or pumping to daylight.
The water heater shall be installed on blocks within the drain pan when a drain pan is included.
The temperature shall be set and the pressure relief valve shall be installed according to manufacturer’s specifications; the discharge tube shall be terminated within 6" of the floor, or as prescribed by local code.
For a closed water supply system (i.e., with a back-flow preventer in the cold water supply), provisions shall be made to control thermal expansion (i.e., install an expansion tank if needed).
The hot water line exiting the water heater shall be installed with a heat trap configuration or heat trap nipple to prevent thermosiphon losses.
Where required by local codes, a mixing valve shall be installed to reduce the point-of-use water temperature and to prevent potential scalding.
All accessible hot water pipes connected to the water heater shall be insulated with a minimum of R-3 pipe insulation.
Commissioning
The water heater shall be commissioned in compliance with manufacturer’s specifications and relevant industry standards.
All operation and maintenance procedures shall be reviewed with the homeowner (e.g., filter, condensate, check for leaks, periodic draining and flushing).
Once the system has been filled and purged, the functioning safety controls and operational controls shall be verified and the system shall be inspected for water leaks.
A condensate drain shall be installed in accord with local code.

BASC Guides

This guide provides information about heat pump water heaters.

Information guide describing how to assess crawlspaces and basements before proceeding with upgrades in existing homes.

Tips to Sell Quality Installed Home Improvements

Home Improvement Expert (HIE) is a valuable tool for organizations committed to quality installed work. The following tips help optimize the value of this tool when selling home improvements:

  • Be the Expert: Take advantage of Building America Solution Center comprehensive guidance on ‘Existing Home’ retrofits.
  • Earn Trust: Inform homeowners how your work conforms to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) world-class expert guidance and recommend homeowners visit the DOE website as evidence these are indeed official best practices.
  • Clarity with Contrast: Tell prospective homeowner clients to compare your expert recommended best practices with other contractors.
  • Ensure Equivalent Pricing: Tell prospective homeowner clients to insist other bids also include DOE checklists to ensure equivalent quality work.
  • Translate Value: Note your company uses DOE HIE Checklists based on world-class expert recommendations for home improvements on all your public-facing communication including websites, advertising, and signage.
  • Create Emotional Experiences: Provide visual evidence contrasting the difference between poor and high quality work such as infrared images for good and bad insulation and air sealing; pre- and post-energy bills following quality installed work; short and long warranties for standard and high-efficiency equipment; and charts showing amounts of contaminants in homes that can be reduced with effective fresh air systems.

Heat Pump Water Heater Background

Heat pump water heater

Water heating is the second largest energy expense in a home – typically 18% of the total utility bill. High-efficiency heat pump water heaters reduce heat loss with well-insulated tanks and produce heat much more efficiently using the refrigerant cycle rather than electric resistance. This process also provides additional cooling and dehumidification to the space, which can be useful during hot weather and a penalty during cold weather.