In late 2018 a group of interested parties participated in a retrofit ready water heater summit in San Francisco. Their goal was to identify barriers limiting the adoption of heat pump water heaters in retrofit applications. The Building Decarbonization Coalition led the effort with support from the New Buildings Institute and several other stakeholders.
The group included manufacturers and policymakers, along with representatives from the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission. Much of the conversation focused on the barriers to the adoption of this super-efficient technology, namely the need for a 220v service run to provide electricity to power the water heaters.
At the meeting, the group reached out to manufacturers to suggest that a 110v heat pump water heater would go a long way to encouraging the adoption of the technology in retrofit applications. The question was this a viable idea? And was it possible to make one? The group challenged manufacturers to demonstrate the viability of a 110v "retrofit ready" heat pump water heater, and it was game on.
The conversation continued with monthly calls and became known as the “Statewide Advanced Water Heater Initiative.”
Heat Pump Water Heater Exposition at SMUD
Flash forward Jan. 23rd and 24th, when the group held an exposition demonstrating the new technologies at SMUD headquarters in Sacramento. The concept was pretty straight forward, invite the policymakers and legislators and demonstrate the technology so they can see the actual working units in-person. Then follow up with a day of educational sessions for policymakers and other interested parties such as distributors, program designers, and installers.
Several manufacturers participated, and to their credit, they met the goal of the initial challenge. There were representatives from six major manufacturers present. Two of the manufactures demonstrated fully functioning 120v heat pump water heaters.
The event was a success, and attendance was impressive. The planners anticipated there would be 120 to 130 participants — the size of the rooms available somewhat limited capacity. In the end, the event was "sold out" and had a seventy person waitlist. The attendance speaks volumes about the interest statewide in heat pump water heaters.
This effort is proof of what we can achieve by working together. With the proper support, we can create products and solutions to address Greenhouse Gas emissions and climate change.
The group was clear in their objectives, worked together to identify barriers, and involved stakeholders at all levels. This collaboration led to new products and ideas that will help accelerate the adoption of this technology.
I congratulate all parties involved in supporting the effort. The success of the event was encouraging, and I hope to see more of this kind of direct involvement, solution-based approach moving forward.