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Exploring Hybrid Water Heaters: What They Are and How They Work

tankless water heater controls

When our water heaters are working properly, we often take them for granted. After all, what’s to worry about when hot water is reliably there when we need it? Since they’re often in basements or closets, it’s even easier to pretty much forget they’re there.

However, not checking in on our water heaters can lead to costly and time-consuming problems. For one, you could be missing out on signs of trouble if you’re not doing some routine maintenance and checks. Without this routine maintenance, you might be throwing money away for no good reason.

In fact, water heaters can be very inefficient. They can account for about 20% of your home’s monthly energy usage, taking up a large percentage of your monthly energy bill.

Hybrid water heater installation is an option you might want to consider to address these concerns. Our team of experts at 4 Star Plumbing Services can help answer all your questions about the process of installation. Before we address what the benefits of hybrid water heaters are, though, we need to answer two questions:

What Is a Hybrid Water Heater?

A hybrid water heater can heat water in two different ways. They typically have the same components and features as standard water heaters, but they add an extra energy-efficient pump to the system.

Although there are different types of hybrid water heaters, the most common type is the hybrid electric water heater. This means that instead of generating its heat the way standard water heaters do, the hybrid electric water heater uses electricity to bring heat to the water.

A good example of when the hybrid water heater, also called a heat pump water heater, proves especially useful is during a time of high hot water usage in a home. When such times occur, hybrid water heaters can automatically switch to using electricity to heat water.

The result is that water heats up quickly and efficiently without the water heater having to be constantly running. By combining tankless electrical heating with a traditional water tank, the water heater uses much less energy, which lowers your energy bills. A hybrid water heater can use 60 percent (or higher) less energy than a traditional tank water heater does.

How Do Hybrid Water Heaters Work?

The way a hybrid water heater works is similar to the way a refrigerator works. Of course, the results are the opposite.

Whereas refrigerators expel hot air so that they can keep the contents inside them cool, hybrid water heaters take air in. They draw warm air from outside them and into evaporator coils. Pumping air in is what starts the heating process.

When the air reaches the evaporator coils, refrigerant enables the coils to absorb heat. That in turn heats the water. Then the system passes the heated water through the piping system and into faucets, showers, and other appliances that use hot water.

Hybrid water heaters are more efficient than traditional ones because they don’t run all the time, so they use less energy. They heat water when hot water is needed instead of always keeping a full tank of hot water available.

When hot water demand is high, though, the tank fills with hot water. This increases the amount of hot water available throughout the home, ensuring that everyone has all the hot water that they need.

What Are the Benefits of Hybrid Water Heaters?

Now let’s consider the 4 principal benefits of hybrid water heaters.

Lower Energy Bills: We already mentioned that hybrid water heaters can use over 60% less energy than standard tank water heaters do, but it’s worth mentioning again. After all, it’s probably the biggest reason people switch to hybrid water heaters.

This lower energy use is the result of the water heater only heating water when it’s needed. By contrast, traditional tank water heaters are always running so that the water inside them stays hot.

Using much less energy naturally translates into lower energy bills. That’s money that can go into savings or other much-needed uses in the home.

Water Heats Efficiently: You might wonder whether not having hot water always stored and available means delays in getting hot water. It doesn’t. Hybrid water heaters heat water quickly and efficiently, so you won’t be standing around for minutes at a time waiting for hot water to come out.

Another thing you might wonder is whether when temperatures are colder, it takes longer for the water to heat up since the system is drawing that colder air in. Because hybrid water heaters are so efficient, you won’t see a difference. That’s good news since even the Fort Lauderdale area can see some rare occurrences of cold temperatures in the winter.

Hot Water Available When Demand Peaks: Just about everyone with a traditional tank water heater has experienced running out of hot water when a lot of people are using it at once. Modern water heaters have gotten faster at heating a tankful of water, but there’s still an inconvenient downtime when hot water runs out.

Hybrid water heaters heat water quickly so that it’s available when needed. In times of high demand, they’ll also heat water and fill the tank so that there’s plenty available.

More Affordable: A final key benefit of a hybrid water heater is that it can be more affordable to buy and install than a standard tank water heater. They’re also easier to maintain. 

Upgrading to a new hybrid water heater is a worthwhile investment that will deliver higher efficiency and lower costs for years. If you’re ready to make the switch, 4 Star Plumbing Services is here to help!

Sean Hasle

Sean Hasle is a third-generation plumber, serving the South Florida area with his family. He is a licensed plumbing, underground utility, and fire contractor.

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