This entry was written by one of our members and submitted to our blog section. The author's views below are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Green Home Guide.

 

   My home's nineteen-year-old LP Gas water heater was starting to show its age: brown rusty water, high gas bills, and a gas smell every time we went into the garage.  While the old gas water heater still worked, we didn’t want to wait and be stuck with no hot water and a 2 year old needing her bath time. It was time to begin looking for a new water heater.

My wife and I had noticed many commercials advertising the efficiency of instant gas water heaters. Even our gas company had a deal with financing.  After asking a professional on Green Home Guide we focused our search on finding a heater that has a high “Energy Factor” (EF).

We researched the following water heating technologies:

  1. Solar thermal: The best on energy factor however didn’t meet our budget and had to be installed on the south side of our roof which was the front of the house.  My wife didn’t like that.

  2. LP Gas tankless: The energy factor is around .94 and is consider by most to be more efficient than the LP Gas tank water heater we currently had at .63 efficiency. Honestly this was the one we thought we would go with from the start. However, I would advise you to weigh the pros and cons before purchase. We found out we would need a water softener to prolong the heat exchanger, warranty coverage, and a larger duct vent through the roof than the one we currently had. A three to four inch duct vent is required.  This added 40% to the original price quote. We also noticed a lot of false promises on true savings.

  3. Electric tankless: The energy factor was comparable to the gas instant/tankless. However we needed to upgrade our electrical panel for the install because the electric instant water heater pulls more amps than the standard tank water heater. Plus they advised us a water-softener or pre-filter would be a good idea too.

  4. Hybrid water heater: This product appealed to us because it was the most innovative and had the highest efficiency -- EF 2.35. Plus it was a lot cheaper than going thermal solar water heating. It also still qualified for the Energy Star tax credit, and was more efficient than gas instant or electric instant water heating. 

We decided to buy the hybrid, a GeoSpring Hybrid-Electric Heat-Pump Hot Water Heater.

What ultimately made me buy a Geo Spring water heater?

There are several factors I considered.

  • The product and the GE website information were great.
  • High efficiency over conventional models without having to go thermal solar. I understand thermal solar watering heating is the best. However so is the hybrid water heater in my opinion and the return on investment is shorter.
  • Price was less than going thermal solar with having to install panels on my roof.
  • No commission to a sales person.
  • Warranty.
  • Tax write off! Use IRS tax form 5695.
  • Easy to install. I didn’t have to install a gas tank, or cut holes in my roof to go thermal solar. I could put it in myself! This one was a big reason for me! I like things done right and other ways to learn about appliances or ways to save energy and protect the environment at the same time.

From $1,038 per year to $250.56 per year

Based on DOE test procedure, my projected energy costs for water heating with the GeoSpring will go from $1,038/year to $250.56, a reduction of 76%. That means I'll recoup a return on investment (ROI) in less than two years, not counting the $300 Energy Star tax deduction or the 27% reduction in kWh rate I'll get from my utility by moving into a lower usage tier. My cost for the GeoSpring water heater was $1,356 and I installed it myself. I estimate it would cost $300 to have a licensed plumber install it.

I should mention I’m a Florida State electrical contractor, active RESNET Class 1 HERS Rater, and I installed this unit myself. However, that didn’t mean I knew how to install one of these or knew all the answers on efficiency. I found several YouTube videos on how to install one of these and read the installation instructions front to back, picked up the material I would need to do the job and installed it without any problems. I think it took me longer to take that old LP Gas water heater out and clean and paint the area prior to installing the new heater.

I should also mention it works great. My wife is happy with plenty of hot water, no complaints, plus we have a garden Jacuzzi tub and it filled it up with plenty of hot water. I keep the setting in the eHeat (most efficient EF 2.55) mode most of the year and in the Hybrid (EF 2.35) mode in the winter months in Florida.

Your mileage may vary

Please do your own research. I live in Florida where the Geo Spring Hybrid will work great because it’s warm most of the year and the incoming ground water temperature is around 75 degrees.

However, if I lived in Ohio I would never install one of these because the temperature split is too high. The incoming ground water temperature there would be around 55 degrees. Most people would require LP Gas or Natural Gas fuel to heat more efficiently in that climate.

What should you check prior to installing a Geo-Spring water heater?

Location: The GeoSpring gives off 56-db of noise which is less than a box type fan running. If installing indoors fan noise, space required, and condensation drain will have to be considered. If installing in a closet the door will have to be vented to allow air to circulate around Heat-Pump. This unit works best with 700 cubic feet of air around unit for proper air circulation. I installed mine in the garage where it’s warmer and has space around it to evaporate the warm air to heat the water more efficiently.

Climate: Southern states in my opinion would be the best option on increased energy savings.

Cost: Check around, I purchased mine at Lowe's and extended the warranty up to 10 years for $80 dollars after the one year warranty runs out.

Contractor: Are they licensed? Did they pull a permit?

Needs: Do I need a 40 gallon, 50 or an 80? Geo-Spring only comes in a 50 gallon at this time. However we have a garden Jacuzzi tub and it fills it up just fine with plenty of hot water.