Go Green and Save: Installing a Heat Pump Water Heater in NZ

As energy prices continue rising in New Zealand, more Kiwis are looking for ways to save on power bills while also doing their bit for the environment. One impactful yet overlooked way to achieve both is by installing a heat pump water heater.

Unlike traditional electric or gas storage tanks that heat water using elements or burners, heat pump units work like a fridge in reverse - they extract ambient heat from the air to heat water. This makes them over 3 times more energy efficient, saving the average household up to $600 per year on hot water costs. Going with a quality heat pump water heater is one of the most effective carbon-cutting measures for your home.

Why Should You Get a Heat Pump Water Heater?

Besides massive savings on your power bill, here are 5 compelling reasons to “go green” with a heat pump system if you’re building or renovating in NZ:

  1. Reduce Carbon Emissions

As New Zealand moves towards 100% renewable electricity by 2030, hot water heating will become one of the biggest household energy users left to address. Switching from an electric to heat pump system reduces associated carbon emissions by 60-70%. Going to a heat pump for your hot water is one of the top 3 carbon-cutting changes you can make at home along with improving insulation and installing solar power.

  1. Access Government Subsidies

To encourage more eco-friendly hot water choices, the NZ government is offering generous subsidies on heat pump water heater installations until 2024. Qualifying units are eligible for a Warm Up New Zealand grant covering $700 of the install cost. This takes a significant bite out of the price premium compared to low-cost electric cylinders. Factor in energy savings, and your system pays for itself within 5 years.

  1. Lower Power Bills

Compared to conventional electric water heating, quality heat pump systems lower your hot water power usage by around two-thirds. The upfront cost of installing one is higher, but not when you account for massive energy savings – up to $600 annually for the average Kiwi household! Additionally, such systems dehumidify the air, further reducing electricity demands from other appliances. Every $100 off your power bill is about 0.5 tons of CO2 saved.

  1. Extra Features

Another benefit of heat pump water units is the added functionality traditional systems lack. Many come with a 240V power outlet to operate another appliance nearby. Some models even allow diverting the cool, dehumidified air flow into the house on hot, muggy days, saving you even more on summer air conditioning costs. A few high-end heat pumps now also let you warm your home’s radiant floor heating. Added perks which enhance efficiency!

  1. Reliability

Lastly, modern heat pump water heaters are a mature, proven technology first introduced in Japan in early 2000’s. Today over 3 million systems are in use globally including over 75,000 units installed across eco-conscious Europe. Leading Japanese brands like Mitsubishi, Panasonic and Rinnai have engineered robust residential heat pumps to last over 20 years – much longer than the 10–15-year lifespan of conventional storage tanks. Invest now in a quality unit sized for your needs and reap rewards for decades down the line!

Sizing & Installation Considerations

Installing a heat pump water unit is best planned from the building stage as part of your wider eco home strategy. But they can also readily retrofit to replace existing cylinders with relatively minor plumbing modifications. When upgrading from a 50–80-gallon electric tank, a small to medium 270–330-liter heat pump model should suffice for 2-4 residents.

Here are 5 pointers on correctly sizing and placing your system:

    • Placement

The outdoor compressor and fan assembly needs mounting on an exterior wall away from potential frost zones. Avoid placing under shade or overhangs hindering air flow.

    • Sizing

Allow around 100 liters of tank capacity per person, factoring in some leeway for those indulgent spas or long teenager showers! Specify multiple small units rather than one oversized if storage exceeds 400 liters.

    • Ventilation

The area housing the tank indoors should have adequate airflow so moist air and condensation do not build up.

    • Climate

If you live in the mountains or southern regions, opt for a model with refrigerant defrost to prevent icy build-ups during cold snaps hampering efficiency.

    • Noise

Consider potential noise issues from the compressor disturbing neighbors or bedrooms. Specify noise reduction brackets if installed on shared walls.

Top Heat Pump Brands in New Zealand

While heat pump water heating technology originated in Japan, these days most major heat pump brands offer models tailored specifically to New Zealand’s conditions and building codes.

When comparing systems, look for:

  • A well-designed weatherproof compressor with sufficient clearances for airflow.

  • An anti-corrosion glass-fused steel hot water storage tank.

  • Refrigerant defrost capability if snow or hard frosts are likely in your area.

  • Intelligent self-cleaning features to inhibit bacterial growth.

  • Digital displays indicating energy usage and diagnostics data.

  • Warranties of at least 5 years on parts and tank.

Professional Installation Recommended

With building consent and electricity supply modifications required, installing a heat pump water unit is best left to qualified tradespeople. They ensure your system meets efficiency compliance codes. Fortunately, the high subsidies available generally cover most if not all of your installation costs. Reputable plumbing firms nationwide like On Time, Absolute and Laser offer specialized heat pump competency training for their technicians.

Most consenting councils across NZ now mandate go green features like heat pumps or solar pre-heating on newly built homes. So, team up with an eco-builder specializing in sustainable dwellings to integrate your hot water properly from the design phase.

Final Words – Lower Bills, Smaller Footprint

Transitioning to energy-efficient heat pump water heating lets Kiwi homeowners’ profit with lower bills today while investing in greener living for tomorrow. Mature technology refined over decades by leading brands makes these systems a smart, trouble-free choice for new builds and renovations. With generous government subsidies available only until 2024, now is the perfect time to transition for long-term savings up to 60% off your hot water costs. Contact heat pump specialists in your area to select and size a system that best meets your budget and lifestyle needs.

Hopefully this overview has been helpful for those weighing up installing a heat pump hot water unit. Feel free to reach out with any other questions in planning your new energy-saving system. Here’s to a cooler, greener Aotearoa!

Use our contact us page to reach us and we will be more than happy to discuss your hot water situation. Or give us a call on 0800 497658.

At Hot Water Solutions all we do is hot water.

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