Your energy tip of the week: hybrid water heaters
Published: Nov 28, 2016
Almost everyone I speak with guesses wrong when I ask them what a hybrid water heater is. Do you think you can do better? What would you guess it is? If you said a hybrid water heater uses solar power, you just made the same wrong guess as everyone else. No worries! A hybrid heater uses another proven technology to save you money.
Since water heating can account for up to 35 percent of your electric bill, it is clear that saving some money here has a big impact on the bottom line. On the other hand, with winter upon us, cold showers are not a fun option either. Hybrid water heaters allow you to still enjoy your hot water, but pay 80 to 90 percent less for it.
How does a hybrid water heater work? The short answer is compressed air technology. Imagine a giant beach ball filled with air. Now take all that air out and pump it into a space the size of a marble. What happens to all that air in the tight space? Friction – a lot of it! And that friction produces a lot of heat.
When the hybrid heater turns on, all it does is compress air for about 20 minutes and store it. Then it can shut off. The compressed air inside continues to heat the water long after the hybrid stops running – this means a hybrid heater has to run less often than a regular heater, saving you money. Similarly, since the hybrid produces heat just by compressing air (using about 750 watts of electricity) instead of by passing current through a resistor like a regular water heater (using about 3,000 to 4,000 watts) the hybrid uses much less power every time it runs. These two factors – being able to run less often and using less power each time the heater runs – are what enables a hybrid heater to save you 80 to 90 percent on the cost to heat your water. That’s $8,000 to $12,000 over the life of the unit! What would you do if I gave you $12,000? Well, I’ve found it for you right here.
One of the other benefits of the hybrid water heater is ease of installation. It easily replaces a standard electric water heater, and any qualified contractor can install it. This saves you on labor costs if you are a homeowner; and if you are a contractor it gives you a way to make money while saving your client even more money.
How else can a green hybrid water heater improve your quality of life?
• High quality hybrid heaters come ready with several different operation modes, including a vacation mode to save you money while you are away.
• You can add a Wi-Fi component to control your hybrid heater remotely from your smartphone.
• If you are using a timer on your current heater, and that sometimes prevents you from having hot water when you need it, a hybrid can save you money while removing that inconvenience, since it will always keep the water hot.
• You can adjust the water temperature to your preference.
• Hybrid water heaters can even produce hot water faster than standard electric heaters – which is a life saver if everyone needs to shower at the same time, or if you have a lot of houseguests over for the holiday.
• Since hybrid heaters compress air, they give off cool air as a byproduct, so they can be used to help moderate the temperature in a room like your garage
• Quality hybrid heaters are Energy Star rated, so you can have peace of mind that they are green for the environment and green for your wallet.
Are there any drawbacks to getting a hybrid water heater? Yes. Due to the technology, the heater comes in only two sizes – 50 gallons and 80 gallons. This is great for a family, but not the best choice for a couple or a single person. Also, hybrid heaters are more expensive upfront than standard water heaters. Since they can cost $2,000 to $4,000, this makes them less costly than a solar water heating system, but does mean they take three to five years for the savings to pay for the upgrade. Finally, since they use compressed air, they must either be in a well-ventilated area or a room big enough to provide the air required.
Hybrid water heaters are not the water heating solution for everybody. However, as an effective, easy upgrade that can save you thousands of dollars, they are worth considering. If you think this may be a good fit for you, contact your local energy efficient products specialist to help you assess your situation and make the upgrade.
• Joshua Key is the general manager of SuperGreen Solutions Bahamas, located on Wulff Road next to FYP. SuperGreen Solutions leads the market as one of the premier advisors, suppliers and installers of domestic and commercial energy efficient solutions, making it truly a ‘one-stop, energy-efficient solution shop’. Having been in the energy efficiency industry for over 19 years the founders have established a solid reputation spanning five continents. SuperGreen Solutions is different because it looks at energy creation and energy saving from a holistic point of view, to provide clients with total solutions.