In the House & the GeoSpring Hybrid Electric Water Heater

Traditionally, water heaters have been powered by gas or electric, but over the last few years we’ve seen the emergence of hybrid water heaters. In this segment of In the House, Jared speaks with a guest expert about the GeoSpring Hybrid Electric Water Heater, an innovative water heater currently on the market.

Jared: John Crone, National Water Sales Manager from General Electric is on the line with me today. Welcome to the show, John. We appreciate you spending some time with us thus morning to discuss water heaters and more specifically, hybrid water heaters. Please give our listeners some background information about hybrid water heaters and heat pump water heaters.

John: A hybrid water heater is a basically a standard tank electric water heater that most homes have, but it actually has a secondary heat source. In the case of heat pump water heaters, that second heat source is a heat pump attached to the top of the tank that works inversely to a refrigerator’s cooling system. Our GeoSpring system takes ambient room temperate air, processes it through a compressor condenser system to heat it then uses that to heat the water in the tank along with the electric elements.

Jared: I would like to know why GE does it this way. Why not just use a regular old style electric tank water heater?

John: Well, an old style water heater uses resistance elements. Those are basically electric rods that go into the tank and heat the water within. Those elements are powered with 4,500 watts of electricity. That is equivalent to having forty-five 100 watt light bulbs turned on in your home all the time! As a matter of fact, the water heater is the second biggest use of electricity in a home outside of HVAC (air conditioning) equipment. This heat pump requires only 550 watts (five and half 100 watt light bulbs) to power the heat source for the water tank. Obviously that saves the homeowner a significant amount of energy and money. It is also great for the utility companies and environment because as more electricity is used, the demand for more and bigger power plants increases.

Jared: Meaning that, for consumers, more money stays in their pocket because the demand for, and cost of, electricity does not go up.

John: Absolutely. To provide hot water to an average size home, a standard electric water heater costs about $555 a year. Most people don’t even realize the cost because hot water is a must-have utility. However, a GeoSpring heat pump water heater only costs the same size residence $155 a year to use. That's a significant $400 difference in your electric bill!

Jared: Can you explain for our listeners exactly how the heat pump system works and where it is installed?

John: In Florida, the best place to install the heat pump is generally in the garage because it pulls in the ambient warm air from the garage, runs it over the evaporator coils, boils it, condenses it and runs it around a coil. The effect is the same as an electric element wrapped around the outside of the water tank, but instead of creating electric heat by turning on elements, it is actually moving heat by using ambient air that is available in the room allowing the heat pump to work in conjunction with the elements. For example, when the family wakes up in the morning and everyone starts taking showers, rapidly draining the hot water, the 550 watt heat pump quickly turns on, but when it senses the demand for hot water is too much to keep up with alone it signals the 4500 watt electric elements to turn on and then turns itself off. When everyone finishes taking their shower, the water heater recognizes, on its own, that water is no longer being drained from the tank and that it has time to recover. So now instead of the 4500 watt electric elements rapidly heating a greater amount water, the 550 watt heat pump takes over, giving the electric elements time to rest and recovering hot water at a much cheaper price to the homeowner.

Jared: When you mentioned that the heat pump operates by removing heat from the ambient air, what ambient air temperature is required in order for the pump to actually produce heat from it?

John: The GeoSpring has the widest range of ambient air operating temperature in the industry. The lowest ambient air temperature it can handle is 35° where it operates at almost 200% efficiency, and it handles ambient temperatures all the way up to 120° where pump is at 400% efficiency. The obvious question then would be; what happens when the ambient temperature is outside of, especially lower than, the 35° minimum? In those cases, the pump senses it and simply switches over function to the electric elements only to heat water during those rare times in Florida the weather drops below 35° and no special action by the consumer is required.

Jared: Obviously, here in Florida we have a lot of hot weather and very little cold. Is that why you’d recommend installing one of these GeoSpring Hot Water Pumps in the garage?

John: Correct, but it can really be installed anywhere. The garage is most often the perfect location because of the higher ambient air temperate, especially in Florida, but if you do not have that option available to you then they can be installed anywhere in the house with adequate air flow. In addition, we have an optional ducting kit that can pull and push air to wherever the pump needs it. So really there is no space where it cannot be installed.

Jared: That is very interesting! I really like that it gives the homeowner the options to install it pretty much anywhere in the house. Personally, I love the ingenuity that goes into inventing these new home technologies, especially from American companies. In fact, General Electrical is manufacturing this in the United States, right?

John: That is correct. We are the only heat pump water heater actually produced in the United States, specifically at our Louisville, Kentucky Appliance Park location. We are very, very proud of that fact and that we have the "Made in America" label, which means that over 70% of the parts that make up the unit are made in the United States also. We have about 400-450 families who are employed with GE today because we have this product being produced in the United States in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jared: Awesome! John, I really appreciate you spending time with us this morning. If anyone would like more information about the GE GeoSpring Heat Pump Water Heater you can visit the website online at www.geospring.com. If you are considering installing a new hot water heater, contact our office and we can have someone come out and take a look.

Listen Saturday mornings to "In the House with Ken & Jared". Get more Home Tips and show info at the In the House website. For a free Electrical Inspection and a free estimate on your next Home Improvement Project, visit Universal Roof & Contracting or call now. Orlando: 407-295-7403 Jacksonville: 904-647-3907

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