Heat Pump Water Heater Market Research: Challenging Installations Scenarios

In 2019, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) created a framework for understanding and investigating various scenarios associated with challenging installations of heat pump water heaters (HPWHs). To better inform the scenarios identified in the framework, NEEA contracted with Cadeo Group in the summer of 2020 to explore the different challenging installation experiences installers faced with HPWH equipment. Findings would help the program develop the best practices to help installers overcome these difficulties, thereby enabling more installers throughout the region to offer HPWHs to customers as a potential replacement. Furthermore, this study would support the Market Transformation goals of the program by collecting data to inform an anticipated Federal water heating standard for HPWHs. Other objectives included:

  • Estimating the prevalence of these scenarios in the regional housing stock
  • Understanding the frequency with which installers encounter each scenario
  • Investigating the level of effort required to overcome challenges
  • Identifying where installers turn for information or solutions

This study spurred other similar research in different regions of the country, as well as the HPWH in Small Spaces Lab Testing: The Amazing Shrinking Room study from 2022. In addition, this Challenging Installations Scenarios study includes a brief report in the appendix prepared by Optimized Thermal Systems, Inc. (OTS), an independent research firm, which compares the findings of this study against the U.S. Department of Energy (U.S. DOE) assumptions pertaining to the prevalence of challenging installations for HPWHs in the residential stock. The OTS report indicates the findings presented in the Challenging Installations Scenarios study align with U.S. DOE assumptions. Lastly, NEEA is currently conducting observational research of installations in cold climate locations in the Northwest to determine if there are challenges specific to cold climate regions.

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