New report uncovers frustrating barriers for heat pump water heaters

Emerging technology work is more than just making an efficient new widget. The path to market adoption can often be a long and winding one, even for the best of products. That certainly seems to be the case for heat pump water heaters (HPWHs). Though the performance of these water heaters is increasingly well-established, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) has just released a study that found adoption remains sluggish and there appear to be numerous bottlenecks.

In summary, NEEA found that: 

“Mystery shopping calls to a random sample of installers and retailers revealed that neither group is likely to recommend HPWHs to customers, and that retail salespeople do not understand the technology well. The study also found that the NAECA standard has underperformed and has generated multiple workaround solutions. Installers and retailers most commonly recommend downsizing to a 50-gallon standard electric water heater to avoid the installation of a HPWH. The findings suggest that installers need more training and education on the consumer benefits of HPWHs, and that high first cost and prior negative experiences with the technology are still barriers.”

Though this type of finding is hardly new, it can be frustrating for industry stakeholders who have worked for years to drive adoption. But nobody ever said change was easy! And so the effort to increase the prevalence of HPWHs continues—with NEEA in the Northwest, at ETCC member utilities in California, and elsewhere in North America.

The detailed NEEA report can be found here