Heat Pump Vs Tankless Water Heater: How to Choose

Tankless water heaters usually seem like a clear winner. First, because heat pump water heaters transfer rather than generate heat, they’re less efficient than tankless heaters that produce their own heat. Second, tankless heaters can function in cooler and warmer climates.

Heat pump water heaters are better if you live in a warm climate, have little need for hot water, and prioritize energy efficiency. Tankless heaters are usually preferable if you live in a cold climate or need hot water often, though they use more energy.

In this article, we will try to help you make a more informed decision on whether to keep your standard water heater or switch to a heat pump or tankless unit.

Which Water Heater Is More Energy Efficient?

Evidence points to a heat pump water heater using less energy to heat water. However, both heat pump and tankless water heaters will reduce energy consumption by a lot when compared to traditional water heaters. 

Energy Savings Of A Heat Pump Water Heater

A heat pump water heater can reduce total energy consumption in your household by up to 60 percent over the course of a year

That yearly energy efficiency target is achieved because a heat pump water heater helps reduce your household’s power load by about 90 percent during peak hours.

tankless water heater vs heat pump

Reducing energy consumption during peak hours also has a significant cost implication for households throughout the United States because peak energy costs are more significant than your standard energy costs throughout the course of the day.

It is also estimated that heat pump water heaters can save Americans about $7.8.billion in operating costs over a year. This means that each household in the United States can expect to save around $182 per year on operational costs.

Energy Savings Of A Tankless Water Heater

If you don’t use much water in your household, you could reduce energy consumption by about 34 percent every day with a tankless heater. But if your home uses more than 41 gallons of water per day, you may save as little as 8 percent.

Since tankless heaters require less space, you could have more than one of them in your household. If you do adopt that route, you could hypothetically save more. Details are still a little sketchy on how much you would be saving, though.

You would also need to examine if installing more than one tankless water heater is worth the costs of the installation itself.

Which Water Heater Takes Up The Most Space?

A tankless unit takes up less space than a heat pump unit.

If space is an issue, switching from a conventional storage heater to a heat pump water heater won’t help much. They take up about the same amount of space. Tankless water heaters save more space compared to a traditional storage tank water heater. 

How Much Space Does A Heat Pump Water Heater Need?

Plumbing experts will tell you that a heat pump water heater will require a 12′ x 12′ space, not only for installation but also to ensure that the heat pump water heater functions as well as you would expect it to. 

A heat pump does not just need to fit into your home—it also needs air access to keep the heater running efficiently.

How Much Space Does A Tankless Water Heater Need?

If you plan on installing a tankless unit in your home, you will only need about 24 square inches of floor space. This is less than a conventional water heater needs.

Once installed on the wall, a tankless hot water heater will only extend about 10 inches from the wall. Some tankless water heaters take up even less space than that.

Which Water Heater Costs More To Install?

A tankless water will usually cost more than a heat pump water heater to install. This is because tankless water heaters require you to make infrastructure upgrades when installing.

As such, installing a tankless water heater could cause your installation costs to skyrocket. However, the lifespan of a tankless water heater might be enough to offset these costs.

How Much Does It Cost To Install A Heat Pump Water Heater?

A heat pump water heater suitable for your home will cost you about $1,100 to install, which is significantly more than you can expect to pay when you install a regular storage tank water heater.

Hiring a professional to install your heat pump water heater is usually best. In the United States, you can usually expect to pay around $900 for a plumber to install your hot water heater. 

heat pump water heater

The cost of your heater will also be determined by the type of water heater with a heat pump that you buy. You can get an air source heat pump, a ground-source heat pump, an exhaust air heat pump, a solar-assisted heat pump, a water-source heat pump, or a hybrid heat pump.

You can use different types of water heaters for heating and cooling your living space or motor vehicle, district heating, and industrial heating.

How Much Does It Cost To Install A Tankless Water Heater?

A quality 11GPM tankless water heater can cost you more than $2,000, but you can get many tankless water heaters for about half that initial cost. 

Beyond that, the installation cost will spike because of all the additional infrastructure upgrades you will need, such as running new gas lines in your home.

You will also likely need a professional to do that type of work for you. The labor cost will be about $900, depending on where you live in the United States.

Which Water Heater Costs More To Operate?

An electric tankless water heater will cost you about $4,351 to operate over the course of a year, while a tankless gas water heater will cost about $1,200 to run. A heat pump water heater will cost about $1,688 to operate.

So if you purchase a tankless water heater, opt for a gas instead of an electric heater, since electric water heaters cost several times more money to operate annually.

Which Water Heater Lasts Longer?

A tankless hot water heater should last about two decades, maybe even five years longer if you maintain it well. But if you do not maintain the heater, its lifespan can be whittled down to as little as six years. Heat pump water heaters last 15 years.

Additionally, most experts will advise that you perform maintenance on a tankless water heater at least once a year. It may also need inspections. 

The same principle of maintenance applies to heat pump water heaters, which can have a lifespan of about 15 years if they are maintained well. It should last you at least a decade before you need to replace it.