As the demand for more energy-conscious water heating solutions continues to grow, the industry is seeing an increase in the popularity of heat pump water heaters – a product rated three times more efficient than a standard tank electric water heater. This trend has allowed manufacturers to focus on creating more energy-efficient technology with the homeowner and professional in mind. Driven by factors including government regulations, customer demands and the desire for smart technology, A. O. Smith strives to be a key resource for customers by providing insights and solutions to help move the industry forward.
Regulations and rebates
To support decarbonization and electrification efforts, local, state and national governing bodies have set, or are currently vetting, regulatory standards that have already elevated the demand for heat pump products. Tax credits and rebates are also helping to drive the adoption of heat pump water heaters in new construction and existing homes by giving consumers more reasons to switch from traditional electric or gas water heaters to heat pump water heaters.
The Inflation Reduction Act, which was passed in mid-2022, will have a direct impact on the water heating industry. It includes increases in tax credits for homeowners and homebuilders, which will help lessen the financial investment that often comes with purchasing a heat pump water heater and select high-efficiency gas water heaters.
Starting in 2023, the tax credit for heat pump water heaters will be 30% of the total cost to purchase and install the unit up to a cap of $2,000. This variable tax credit will offer significantly higher upfront savings to homeowners in 2023, especially when combined with local utility rebates, which can run as high as $1,000 in some states.
To make it easier for customers purchasing energy efficient water heaters to find local rebates and tax credits, A. O. Smith also offers a ZIP code-enabled rebate finder powered by EcoRebates. The tool helps streamline the process by allowing customers to enter their location to see current rebates available for a wide selection of high-efficiency products.
Along with the desire for increased cost-savings comes the need for an improved installation and service experience for the professional. A. O. Smith recently launched the Voltex AL (anti-leak) heat pump water heater, a first-of-its-kind water heating solution with updated water connections, smart connectivity and integrated leak detection.
Installation flexibility was a priority when designing the Voltex AL model, providing professionals with a universal replacement option. Incorporating a zero-clearance design for the sides and back, as well as top and front water connections, this product is an ideal choice for a variety of new and retrofit applications. The Voltex AL heat pump water heater also operates at 45 dBA, making it the quietest model currently on the market.
The ENERGY STAR® certified Voltex AL® product features an incredibly high Uniform Energy Factor (UEF) of 4.02 with the 66-gallon unit and 3.8 with the 50-gallon. It’s also available in an 80-gallon model.
Another key driving factor in the development of heat pump water heating technology is the adoption and integration of smart features. As technology evolves, more homeowners are interested in controlling their appliances remotely using their smartphones.
With the new Voltex AL heat pump water heater, the integrated iCOMM™ connectivity platform supports features like anti-leak technology through the use of integrated leak detection and a smart anode. Using the A. O. Smith mobile app, professionals and homeowners can remotely monitor and adjust the water heater to improve performance and increase savings. For added peace of mind, the smart sensor provides notifications through the notification-enabled mobile app in the event of a detected leak. Owners can also utilize an optional shutoff valve accessory to further protect homes. The smart anode adapts to local water conditions, protecting and extending the life of the water heater, and it displays a specific error code on the control panel when it needs to be replaced. Demand response and time-of-use capabilities make it even easier to save money by integrating the heat pump water heater into the growing number of utility smart grid programs.
Heat pump water heaters will continue to play an important role in decarbonization and efficiency efforts. As government agencies put energy efficiency front and center, it’s our responsibility as manufacturers to prioritize more sustainable technology for our customers to ensure a greener future.
Arthur Smith, Product Coordinator – Specialty Residential, A. O. Smith
Francois Lebrasseur, Business Development Manager – Utility Sector, A. O. Smith