The latest generation of Heat Pump Water Heaters represents an exciting new opportunity for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region to achieve significant energy and cost savings. Completely transforming the residential electric water heating market in this region from the incumbent electric resistance water heater to the more efficient heat pump water heater technology would result in nearly 340 million kWh in annual electricity savings, the equivalent of over 41,000 households’ annual electricity use.1
With all of the promise associated with this technology, the market for HPWHs is still very immature, with market penetration at less than 1 percent. Regional stakeholders find themselves simultaneously eager to heavily promote this technology to drive market adoption yet cautious to avoid pitfalls that other promising emerging technologies have experienced. History has given us too many examples of emerging technologies that have been poorly introduced to the market, delaying and in some cases altogether preventing their potential from ever being realized. Because of the stakes involved, NEEP, with input from a range of regional stakeholders, developed this forward looking market strategy report to thoughtfully hasten the uptake of HPWHs. The report theorizes that such a deliberate approach will enable long term market growth leading to market transformation.
New efforts to drive HPWHs into the market will unfold amidst changing federal minimum efficiency standards for residential water heaters set by the U.S. Department of Energy (U.S. DOE). If the region is to impact the next rulemaking process that will be completed in 2018, we must successfully drive market adoption of HPWH for all sizes – large and small. The more market evolution the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions can help drive over the next three- four years, the more directly the region can impact the federal standards revision process.
A revision to the national standards would not only bring exciting savings to our region, but leverage over four times that amount of energy savings for the rest of the country.
A closer look at the current products, delivery chain and consumer base exposes a number of important barriers that have been, and continue to be, obstructing HPWH uptake in the region. An Advisory Group of stakeholders from across the region identified a comprehensive list of barriers and then prioritized that list to identify the most crucial barriers to address.