The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) contracted with ILLUME Advising in Q4 2022 to pursue two concurrent studies around water heater installers. The first was intended to focus on observational research of cold climate heat pump water heater (HPWH) installations in the Northwest to better understand the depth of previously established installation challenges, specifically in cold climate scenarios. The second study (also qualitative in nature) was geared to better understand any challenges installers and plumbers in the region might face around recommending and installing HPWHs in existing single-family homes, and their hesitation to do so. In both studies, NEEA included installers with little to no prior experience in HPWH installation across the Northwest.
Key takeaways identified opportunities to support installers in recommending HPWHs to customers. For example, findings highlight that providing more design and size options for retrofit situations may increase installer comfort and confidence in recommending HPWHs. Furthermore, observational research found that installers believe HPWHs can be installed in most homes, and that it is comparable to “installing a traditional water heater.” However, the study identified opportunity to improve product options and availability to enhance the feasibility of installations. Given these discoveries, there is a valuable opportunity to engage in additional collaborations with installers to amplify their assurance and trust in recommending HPWHs.