"When they come to understand about the efficiency, how it costs a little more up front but will save them a lot of money over time, then they get more interested in it. So we're selling more of these models," said Jan Tadorski, a salesman.
Hybrid water heaters cost about $1,000 more than a conventional electric heater. How long will it be until you really start saving? /*Consumer Reports*/ tested three models to answer that question.
Hybrid water heaters work like conventional electric ones, but they also have a pump that draws in heat from the air to help heat the water. Hybrid water heaters tend to be taller because the pump is usually mounted on top. As a result, you'll need at least a 7-foot ceiling and about 1,000 cubic feet of space.
To evaluate, engineers set the temperature to 65 degrees in a specially built enclosure. The test results were based on how much hot water a family of four might use in a day, which is about 80 to 85 gallons.
It turned out that the hybrid water heaters that were tested by Consumer Reports can save you more than $300 a year compared to a conventional electric water heater.
"That means they could pay for their purchase price and installation costs in as little as five years. That's a lot faster than either solar or tankless heaters," said Bob Markovich of Consumer Reports.
If you're looking to buy a hybrid heater, Consumer Reports said a Rheem model is a good choice. It costs about $1,400, plus installation. You'll see a drop in your electric bills right away.
Consumer Reports said if you're thinking of buying a hybrid water heater, now is definitely the time to do it, because there is a 30-percent federal tax credit available through the end of 2010.
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