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An Assessment of Efficient Water Heating Options for an All-Electric Single Family Residence in a Mixed Humid Climate



Elizabeth C. Balke, William M. Healy, Tania Ullah


An evaluation of a variety of efficient water heating strategies for an all-electric single family home located in a mixed-humid climate is conducted using numerical modeling. The strategies considered include various combinations of solar thermal, heat pump, and electric resistance water heaters. The numerical model used in the study is first validated against a year of field data obtained on a dual-tank system with a solar thermal preheat tank feeding a heat pump water heater that serves as a backup. Modeling results show that this configuration is the most efficient over the course of a year, with a coefficient of performance (COP) of 2.87. The heat pump water heater alone results in a COP of 1.9, while the baseline resistance water heater has a COP of 0.95. Impacts on space conditioning are also investigated by considering the extra energy consumption required of the air source heat pump to remove or add heat from the space that is attributed to the water heating system. A modified COP that incorporates the heat pump energy consumption shows a significant drop in efficiency for the dual tank configuration since the heat pump water heater draws the most heat from the space in the heating season while the high temperatures in the solar storage tank during the cooling season result in an added heat load to the space. Despite this degradation in the COP, the combination of the solar thermal preheat tank and the heat pump water heater is the most efficient option even when considering the impacts on space conditioning.
Energy and Buildings


water heating, residential, solar, heat pump water heater, electric water heating


Balke, E. , Healy, W. and Ullah, T. (2016), An Assessment of Efficient Water Heating Options for an All-Electric Single Family Residence in a Mixed Humid Climate, Energy and Buildings, [online], (Accessed May 29, 2024)


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Created November 30, 2016, Updated October 12, 2021