To increase the market for heat pump water heaters, NEEA works closely with major manufacturers to influence and support their product development and market strategies. When GE announced in 2016 that it would be ending production of its GeoSpring heat pump water heater line, the alliance recognized an opportunity to positively shape and stabilize the product’s future. NEEA staff brought together Northwest utilities and efficiency organizations, the Department of Energy and several large stakeholders from beyond the Northwest to present the business case for heat pump water heaters to Bradford White. Not long after, Bradford White made the decision to acquire the assets of GE Appliances’ heat pump water heater operation.
Bradford White’s decision to start manufacturing heat pump water heaters didn’t take place in a vacuum. It was influenced by the experience and the trust that the alliance has built over its 20 years of bringing efficient products to the market. “Northwest utilities and NEEA have done a great job helping to create demand for the heat pump water heater category. Now some of our key distributors are saying ‘I need this product.’ NEEA has established itself as a leader in creating sustainable markets for heat pump water heaters, and that was pivotal in our decision to make the investments necessary to continue to build this product in the U.S.,” said Bruce Carnevale, Bradford White COO.
It’s the financial and market support of over 80 regional utilities promoting heat pump water heaters that has made the Northwest a powerful voice in the global conversation. Manufacturers appreciate the alliance’s strong network of relationships spanning the entire supply chain, including funders’ relationships with their customers. “Thanks in part to NEEA we’re realizing that utilities have a vested interest in our products and capabilities that can drive future product development,” said Arthur Smith, A. O. Smith Product Manager.
The alliance commitment to manufacturers includes continued support to help ensure efficient products are successful once they’re in the market. In 2016, this included providing Rheem, A. O. Smith and Bradford White with technical support to ensure their heat pump water heaters met the Advanced Water Heater Specification, and supporting Rheem and A.O. Smith with marketing materials and promotional strategies. Thanks to this comprehensive approach, the alliance is realizing its vision of an empowered supply chain and a growing heat pump water heater market in the Northwest.