Educating Customers on Hybrid Water Heaters

Many homeowners go the traditional route when replacing a water heater because they’re not aware of other options. Teach them about the efficiency benefits of hybrid technology and you might gain a customer for life.

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Over the past few years, the term “hybrid” has worked its way into our everyday conversation. In the most literal sense, hybrid refers to combining two different elements into a single unit. There are hybrid plants, animals, computers, cars and even regimes, but there has been little discussion about one of the most important plumbing advancements in recent history: hybrid water heaters.

Plumbing contractors are familiar with these super-efficient units, but they’re virtually unknown to the average homeowner. That partly explains why so many homeowners replace their aging water heater with a new version of the same old technology instead of upgrading to a hybrid model.

As a plumbing professional, you can educate your customers on the benefits and features of hybrid water heaters. Remember, the average homeowner isn’t likely to have even heard of a hybrid water heater, much less know how it works or why they should consider one.

Here are specific details to share with customers, including exactly what is a hybrid heater, how it works, and why it’s better than a traditional water heater. Educating potential customers is also a smart way to earn their trust and land the job.

How It Works

Drastic change from the norm can scare some customers, so be sure to start by reassuring homeowners that a hybrid water heater is approximately the same size and shape as a standard water heater, and it’s installed in a similar manner.

Mounted on top of each water heater tank is a heat pump that captures heat from the room air and transfers it to the cold water entering the tank. As a result, heating elements inside the tank use much less energy to heat the water to the desired temperature.

For the inquisitive homeowners who need more detailed information, explain the four basic modes of operation:

  • Efficiency: Maximizes energy savings by only using the heat pump to warm the water.
  • Hybrid: Based on demand for hot water, the heater automatically switches between heat pump and electric heating elements. This mode is the default setting.
  • Electric: Operates like a standard water heater with only the heating elements warming the water. This is the least energy-efficient mode.
  • Vacation: Places the water heater in sleep mode, which reduces operating costs while the homeowner is away for extended periods.

Biggest Benefits

If all the technical talk doesn’t capture the attention of your potential customers, this surely will: Tell them the main reason to consider a hybrid water heater is to reduce energy usage and save money. Standard electric water heaters have an energy factor (EF) between 0.87 and 0.95. Most hybrid heat pump water heaters have an EF of 2.3 or higher. That means electric hybrid water heaters are more than twice as efficient, and the savings can be dramatic. On average, it costs about $540 annually to operate a standard electric water heater, as compared to just $226 for a hybrid water heater. Those are real numbers that make customers sit up and take notice.

It’s also important to point out that although a hybrid water heater can cost twice as much as a standard water heater, most households will recoup that added expense within three to four years through lower electric bills. And state and local energy rebates can reduce the recoup time even further.

About the Author
Joe Truini is a nationally recognized home improvement expert who writes on his expertise for The Home Depot. He is also the author of numerous DIY books, including the best-selling Building a Shed. To research water heaters, including hybrid models referenced by Truini, visit The Home Depot website.



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