What is a Smart Water Heater?

Having hot water on demand is one of the features of a home that makes life livable. It’s one we take for granted until something goes wrong. It’s also a major energy consumer—second only to heating and cooling costs. According to the Department of Energy, “Water heating accounts for about 20% of your home’s energy use.”

  • Installing a smart water heater is one strategic way to reduce those costs while also reaping the benefits of a system that knows when you’ll want hot water and ensures you’ll have it.
  • If you want to improve your energy efficiency even more, according to the National Resources Defense Council, a heat pump water heater can “get the job done in as little as one-half to a third of the energy of a conventional electric resistance or gas heater.”

Combine smart technology with heat pump technology, and you can have the best of both worlds with a smart heat pump water heater.

What Is a Heat Pump Water Heater?

Conventional water heaters are typically either electric-powered or gas-fueled. Cold water flows into the tank—usually via a cold water inlet at the top. Electric heating elements or gas burners at the bottom of the tank bring water to the thermostat’s desired temperature. Water becomes less dense as it warms, so it rises to the top of the tank when heated, ready for someone to turn on a hot tap somewhere in the house. As hot water is used, more cold water flows into the tank, sinks to the bottom to be heated and then rises as it warms. Meanwhile, a thermostat on the tank ensures that the hot water heater maintains the tank of water at the desired temperature.

Heat pump water heaters operate similarly to how we heat our homes. The heat pump is located on the top of the tank, and it works by using an energy-efficient compressor to pull heat from the air and transfer it to the water in the storage tank via a condenser coil circulating hot refrigerant. The process is often compared with how a refrigerator works but in reverse. Some of the most popular heat pump water heaters are hybrids with additional electrical heating elements that can serve as backup during high-demand usage. Heat pump technology is especially effective in warmer climes because it uses the warmth in the air as a resource.

What Is a Smart Water Heater?

Smart water heaters optimize energy use by tailoring water heating regimens to your hot water usage while balancing energy use with time frames when energy may be cheaper and less in demand. Instead of keeping a full tank of water at 120 degrees all day, every day, smart units can monitor and track usage patterns and allow adjustments to reduce wasted energy yet ensure water will be at the desired temperature when needed. Most units are programmable, with features like an app interface that allows remote control, energy-saving options like a vacation or sleep mode, for example, or unit performance monitoring and alerts.

Heat Pump Technology + Smart Technology:
Premier AL Smart Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater by State Water Heaters

The Premier AL Smart Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater from State Water Heaters is a reliable appliance from a reputable manufacturer. The Premier combines the best smart and hybrid energy technologies into a quality high-end unit that is not only affordable but also offers significant cost savings.

1. Premier’s Advanced Energy Efficiency

The most current measure of water heater overall efficiency is the UEF—Uniform Energy Factor. Greater UEF values correspond to better water heater efficiency. For a heat pump water heater to meet ENERGY STAR criteria, it must have a UEF value greater than or equal to 3.30. The Premier has a UEF value of 3.80—potentially reducing the cost of utilities by $500 or more annually. Plus, the fact that it has an ENERGY STAR label makes it eligible for many state and local utility rebates.

Heat pump water heaters are often considered a good choice for warmer climes due to the need to be able to extract warmth from the air and use it to heat the water in the tank. The Premier is no exception but will also work down to 37 degrees Fahrenheit ambient, the broad temperature range allowing more energy-efficient days of operation.

2. Premier’s Water Leak Detection

The Premier’s antileak feature is so important that it is part of the unit’s formal name. The “AL” stands for “antileak,” and much of the focus is on ensuring the Premier will be leak-proof centers on the unit’s smart anode.

The anode is a metal rod that sits within the tank. Its purpose is to attract corrosive elements in the water through an electrochemical process so that the anode deteriorates instead of the tank. Replacing the anode when it is depleted provides continued protection for your tank.

The Premier has a smart anode that is able to adapt to water conditions and regulate anode deterioration, extending the smart anode lifespan beyond that of a standard anode. When the anode has been consumed, the smart system will alert for a replacement. If a leak were to occur, smart sensors would issue both an audible alert and send an email or text message alert. The antileak feature is compatible with the automatic water shutoff, so you never have to worry about the dangers of an electrical appliance in a flooded room.

3. Premier’s App Connection Capabilities

The Premier uses the A. O. Smith iCOMM remote monitoring system, a mobile app with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth access available for both iOS and Android devices. The iCOMM Utilities app allows users to do everything from set up and program the water heater to monitor and control its performance, while connectivity gives the manufacturer a venue to collect telemetry performance data and perform needed updates remotely. If anything goes wrong, the app will automatically alert you and anyone else you have selected via email or text.

The Premier water heater offers multiple operating modes that are accessible through the app. Hybrid is the default, using both the heat pump and electric heating elements as needed to deliver hot water yet remain energy-efficient. However, you can also set the unit to operate on a heat pump only or electric only. The Premier also has a vacation setting that reduces energy consumption while you’re away.

The Premier has Smart Grid technology to manage energy consumption around high-cost peak-demand times and let you know how much energy the water heater is consuming. You may even be able to sync your water heater’s thermostat with your local power company through Universal Communication Modules—UCMs—grid communication adaptors. Just download your local utility provider’s Time of Use schedule so that your water heater will be active during the most affordable timeframes.

With the convenience of plenty of hot water on demand and energy efficiency prioritizing performance, the Premier AL Smart Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater from State Water Heaters is a “must consider” for homeowners who want to save money but love their creature comforts. Smart water heaters with 50-, 66- and 80-gallon tanks are available. Smart technology combined with heat pump technology provides a modern, energy-efficient appliance that any of us would love to have.

Shop Smart Heat Pump Water Heaters at Coburn’s

If your current water heater is aging, it might be time to consider a smart water heater as an energy-efficient replacement. Likewise, if you’re considering a remodel or new construction, you have the opportunity to invest in something smart. If you’d like to know more, schedule an appointment with your local Coburn’s Kitchen & Bath Showroom. Hot water is just one of the things we can help you with.