• Tips & Techniques for Painting
    Tips & Techniques for Painting
  • 7 Smart Kitchen Solutions
    7 Smart Kitchen Solutions
  • Magazine Departments
    Magazine Departments
  • Install a Vinyl Privacy Fence
    Install a Vinyl Privacy Fence
  • Master Carpenter Videos
    Master Carpenter Videos
  • Read FHB on Your iPad
    Read FHB on Your iPad
  • 7 Small Bathroom Layouts
    7 Small Bathroom Layouts
  • Deck Design & Construction
    Deck Design & Construction
  • 9 Concrete Countertop Ideas
    9 Concrete Countertop Ideas
  • Remodeling Articles
    Remodeling Articles
  • Video Series: Tile a Bathroom
    Video Series: Tile a Bathroom
  • Design Inspiration
    Design Inspiration
  • Basement Remodeling Tips
    Basement Remodeling Tips
  • All about Roofing
    All about Roofing
  • 7 Trim Carpentry Secrets
    7 Trim Carpentry Secrets
  • Clever daily tip in your inbox
    Clever daily tip in your inbox
  • Energy-Smart Details
    Energy-Smart Details

IBS 2010: Promising New Water Heater from GE

comments (3) January 20th, 2010 in Blogs
Brian_Pontolilo Brian Pontolilo, editor

GEs new Hybrid Electric Water Heater features a simple electronic control panel.
GEs new Hybrid Electric Water Heater is designed to provide the same amount of hot water as a conventional heater, using half the energy.
GEs new Hybrid Electric Water Heater features a simple electronic control panel.Click To Enlarge

GE's new Hybrid Electric Water Heater features a simple electronic control panel.

We saw a lot of cool stuff at IBS yesterday, but the new product that I was still thinking about when I woke up this morning was GE’s new heat pump water heater. Water heating is a popular subject with our readers. In the last few years, stories about hot water recirculation, tank vs. tankless appliances, and how to save money on hot water have been among your favorites. And for good reason, water heating is second only to heating and cooling in terms of a home’s biggest energy consumers. And because water heaters are a relatively inexpensive appliance, upgrades are a viable way to lower your energy use and save money.

GE’s new Hybrid Electric Water Heater uses heat pump technology to cut annual energy consumption is half, approximately 2300 kWh per year instead of the 4800 kWh per year used by the average electric tank style water heater, according to GE. Users will save approximately $250 per year, based on 10 cents per kWh. They call it a hybrid, because when needed, the appliance can act as a more common electric resistance water heater to meet demand, which is something you can use its Smart Controls to tell it to do. So, whether you’re hosting family for the holidays (set it to High Demand), or leaving for a week of vacation (Set it to “Vacation or Away), you can choose to balance performance and efficiency as you need.

The Hybrid Electric Water Heater will cost about $1500, or $3000 installed, according to a GE representative at the show. It’s expensive, but the good news is that it installs like any other electric water heater and is about the same size as an equivalent tank-style model. So, if you can handle some basic plumbing and wiring, you shouldn’t need a plumber for this project.

Model Home? IBS 2010: The Model Home Gets a Reality Check
A case study in irony: Construction stops on 6,000-square-foot showcase home dubbed 'The New American Home' after falling victim to the credit crunch. Read more...
Schluter foam core tile backer board IBS 2010: Schluter Introduces new Foam Core Tile Backer System
Structural panels will ease the process of making tile partitions, walls, and structures for bathrooms and more. Read more...
Kohler low-flow toilet IBS 2010: More Bang for Your Flush in Kohler's 1.28 gallon Toilet
With water conservation top of mind Kohler showed off its new 1.28 gallon one-piece toilet at the International Builders' Show here in Las Vegas. Read more...


Generac Standby Generator is Smarter than Me
A tour of Generac's booth left me wondering why more homes aren't equipped with emergency power. Read more...
Touch n seal spray foam insulation IBS 2010: Spray Insulation Rigs for the Rest of Us
Looking to get into the spray insulation business but don't want the huge investment? Here's a new portable unit you might be interested in. Read more...
GE hybrid hot water heater IBS 2010: Promising new water heater
GE released the first Energy Star rated water heater that uses heat pump technology and smart controls for significant energy saving potential. Read more...
New Stiletto speed square IBS 2010: Stiletto to Introduce New Titanium Square and Knife
The maker of high-end titanium hammers and prys shows off prototypes of its upcoming speed square and utility knife, due out later this year. Read more...
IBS 2010 Recap IBS 2010: Day One Round Up of New Tools and Products
From entry-level spray foam applicators to a rainwater collection system to some smaller gadgets and accessories, here's what caught our eye at day one of IBS. Listen to the audio slideshow...

posted in: Blogs, IBS, International Builder's Show, GE, water heaters, heat pump water heaters, hybrid water heater

Comments (3)

Mike_Guertin Mike_Guertin writes: Heat pump water heaters aren't new. There have been a few stand alone and add-on units for several years but as Brian notes, GE's is the first E Star. The other models are by much less known brands. One of the other brands -Air Tap- can be connected to ducts and help dehumidify and cool interior air. It's unfortunate that GE's doesn't seem to adapt well.

As other commenters point out, the installed price of the GE model may have a long payback period but it's the first from a major manufacturer. Hopefully other companies will introduce their own and we'll see prices come down. Then, when the payback drops into the 10 year or less range we'll probably see heat pump water heaters become commonplace.

Think hybrid cars and the few early adopters who paid a premium. It's only a matter of time before heat pump water heaters change the landscape.
Posted: 6:54 am on February 8th

brownwoodwork brownwoodwork writes: I was hoping heat pump water heaters would come in at a price that would make them a viable sustainable and affordable option. And I was hoping the heat pump water heaters would be a stronger option to tankless. But this is too expensive--2-3 times as much as a standard water heater. Once again the only people who are going to spring for these heat pump models are those who don't have budget restrictions or hardcore greenies who are willing to take a big hit in the interest of sustainability.

At this price point the heat pumps don't pull ahead of tankless water heaters for price. I wonder how efficient a heat pump water heater is relative to a gas-fired tankless water heater. The nice thing is that the heat pump is electric which could be a cleaner form of energy than gas depending on how the electricity is produced. And you don't have to run gas or propane if you don't already have it. But at $600-700 for an Airtap heat pump unit that mounts on top an existing electric water heater, these new units just don't really pull ahead.

I was just hoping for more.
Posted: 7:19 am on January 26th

CanAmSteve CanAmSteve writes: Great idea, but with a possible $2500 savings over ten years, still a hard sell when it will cost $3000. Especially when one considers those savings are always calculated on best-case scenarios. If you are frugal hot water users (single, travel a lot, etc.) your payback could be 25 years. What's the average time anyone owns a house now? Seven years or so?

What would be nice is to see this integrated into a whole-house heat pump system, rather than a separate unit with its inherent service issues. Just think, in the summer you'd heat you hot water with waste heat from cooling the house.

Do you think that payback calculation includes the cost of annual servicing?

Posted: 4:26 am on January 26th

Log in or create a free account to post a comment.