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NEEA Updates Northern Climate Specification for Heat Pump Water Heaters

Bryan Cohen
Colehour + Cohen - Seattle

Dave Kresta
Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) - Portland


NEEA Updates Northern Climate Specification for Heat Pump Water Heaters

Revisions will help guide market delivery of substantial energy savings for region

Portland, Ore. – The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) today announced revisions to the Northern Climate Specification for heat pump water heaters (HPWH), the first since the release of the specification in October 2009. To develop the updated specifications, NEEA worked closely with The Northern Climate Heat Pump Water Heater Task Force, a group of more than 60 regional utilities and energy efficiency partners, as well as local and national energy organizations from across the northern U.S. and Canada.

“On behalf of millions of Northwest ratepayers, we are thrilled to offer this new and improved specification to manufacturers today,” said Jeff Harris, director of emerging technology at NEEA. “This updated spec will help ensure that heat pump water heater products deliver on their potential for substantial energy savings across the region. This is good for consumers, good for business, and good for the Northwest.”

The Northern Climate Specification tackles performance issues related to heat pump water heaters when operating in cold climates, as well as sound levels and customer comfort. To accelerate the market’s adoption of heat pump water heaters in the Northwest, NEEA and its collaborators added three tiers of product compliance, with increasing levels of efficiency required for each. The full spec can be found here

The revisions provide heat pump water heater manufacturers with requirements to test and build products that perform well and save energy for customers in colder climates such as the Northwest.

NEEA and its partners are helping accelerate the heat pump water heater market because water heating represents a significant cost in Northwest homes, estimated nationally at 17 percent of total residential home energy use, behind only heating and cooling. According to the 6th Northwest Power Plan, heat pump water heaters have the potential to save the region nearly 500 aMW by 2029, the equivalent to powering 381,500 homes each year.

“Delivering the most energy savings while not impacting customers’ comfort and lifestyle is the goal here,” said Dennis Rominger, energy efficiency expert, Puget Sound Energy. “Currently, the only time most of us think about our hot water heater is after it stops working. We want customers to purchase a new heat pump water heater and think minimally about it for the next 15 years. Encouraging manufacturers to design and test heat pump water heaters that perform well in our region is one step closer to getting us there throughout the Northwest. This new specification supports the advancement of heat pump water heaters in the region.”

Currently, numerous heat pump water heater manufacturers, including Air Generate, A.O. Smith, Bosch, GE and Rheem, are working with NEEA and its partners to accelerate adoption of the technology in the Northwest. 

“Heat pump water heaters offer consumers substantial energy savings and cost savings, especially when compared with conventional electric water heaters,” said Kevin Wheeler, senior vice president, water heating for A.O. Smith Corporation.  “This is a worthwhile alternative for customers with an interest in renewable technologies as they relate to water heating. The Northern Climate Specification is an important step forward in the evolution of this technology, and we look forward to working with NEEA so that customers in the Northwest can take advantage of these new products.”

For more information on the Northern Climate Specification, a copy of the specification, Product Assessment Worksheet, and answers to frequently asked questions on the project go here


About the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is a non-profit organization working to maximize energy efficiency to meet our future energy needs. NEEA is supported by and works in partnership with the Bonneville Power Administration, Energy Trust of Oregon and more than 100 Northwest utilities for the benefit of more than 12 million energy consumers. NEEA uses the market power of the region to accelerate the innovation and adoption of energy-efficient products, services and practices. Since 1997, NEEA and its partners have saved enough energy to power more than 568,400 homes each year. Energy efficiency can satisfy more than half of our new demand for energy, saving money, and keeping the Northwest a healthy and vibrant place to live. For more information, visit