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Heat pump dryers and water heaters: what are they and how do they work?

Heat pumps aren’t a new thing. But they’ve really started to get some traction in the last few years as more and more people see the value of investing in energy-saving technology for their homes.

At the same time, heat pump technology has also been continuously refined and improved. So now, apart from heating and cooling your home much more efficiently, heat pumps have also been incorporated into other traditionally power-hungry appliances such as water heaters and dryers.

Before we take a look, here’s a quick recap of how heat pumps work:

Firstly, heat pumps don’t generate heat - they just move it from one place to another. This is what makes them more efficient.

A heat pump contains a fan and a coil filled with refrigerant. In the winter, the coil condenses the ambient heat from outside and feeds this warm air into your home. In the summer, it works in reverse, drawing the heat out of your home, evaporating it and feeding cold air back in - just like an air conditioner. For really cold days, they can also have a back-up electric heating system for when there isn’t enough heat in the ambient air.

Heat pump water heaters

As you might imagine, instead of transferring ambient heat into your home, a heat pump water heater transfers ambient heat into a hot water tank. And just like heat pumps, they also have a back-up electric heating system for high demand periods.

While they’re generally a little taller than a regular water heater, a heat pump water heater should still fit into the same space. However, unlike your current water heater, they also feature different operating modes such as maximum efficiency, high demand and even a vacation mode that puts the system to sleep while you’re away.

According to EnergyStar.gov, a heat pump water heater could save a 4-person household over 50% on their water heating bills, paying back its additional cost in just 2 years.

Find out about our rebates on heat pump water heaters and our list of eligible products.

Heat pump dryers

You know all that hot damp air that comes out of your dryer’s vent? Well you won’t get that with a heat pump dryer. That’s because instead of using a heater and a vent, a heat pump dryer transfers ambient heat from your home through a condenser and into the dryer containing your laundry. The hot damp air from your laundry is then fed through an evaporator which collects and removes the moisture. The resulting hot dry air is then fed back into the dryer and the process is repeated.

While heat pump dryers cost more than a standard dryer, EnergyStar.gov claims they only use half as much energy. Which, considering dryers generally account for up to 12% of your electricity usage, could potentially add up to some significant savings.

Do you already have one of these appliances?

If you’re using a heat pump water heater or a heat pump dryer, we’d love to learn about your experiences. Please tell us about them using the comments box below.