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Rheem Super-Effecient HP-50 Electric Water Heater – Just Released

I just heard about this new electric water heater that looks very promising for those using electricity for hot water. It’s a new Rheem model that uses a heat pump to heat the water. They say it’s kind of like a refrigerator working in reverse. Here’s the exciting part, it’s 2x more efficient than a standard electric resistance water heater. If you are spending say $400/year to heat your water with electricity this should bring your bill down to $200/year. That’s a pretty big deal without going to a solar hot system. It’s going to run most effectively where the ambient air temp is hot so Austin TX is a perfect market for this unit. Also, you need to mount it in a large space (garage, outside closet, crawlspace, or attic (not my favorite option)). Check out this LINK for more info. I called my plumbing supply house and they aren’t shipping these till September (or later) but it looks like the unit will run under $2000 and is eligible for the federal $1500 tax credit. If you were simply changing out an existing water heater with this one that $1500 tax credit would be awesome, but if this is part of a larger remodel or new construction that might not be as big of a deal since your new HVAC and/or windows might already qualify you for that $1500 federal credit. Rheem says payback is under 4 years but I’m guessing it’s more likely closer to 5 years. Assuming the unit lasts 10+ like any other standard WH then it’s a no-brainer. I can’t wait to install on of these units in one of my houses. I hope to post a full review if I get one installed this Fall.
One last comment for those in an all electric utility area, this new water heater makes the switch to solar hot just a bit harder to justify. I’d love to see the cost analysis of this unit vs solar hot water over a 10-20 year period. The tough part of that would be figuring out maintenance costs. Rheem has a solid reputation so I would hope this unit would be trouble free for most of it’s life, but what would a service call cost? Is there any other maintenance besides a periodic flush? Either way, I’m glad to have a new high efficiency option for hot water without going solar (assuming tankless isn’t an option). -Matt Risinger
Here’s a link to this unit on Amazon, please consider buying it through them to support my blog.  Thanks!