ORNL Partners with GE on New Hybrid Electric Water Heater
About 400 jobs will soon be created at a Louisville General Electric plant at which a new electric water heater will be built. The technology was developed through a collaboration between ORNL and GE. The appliance will meet the new Energy Star water heater program criteria, which require future heaters to be twice as efficient as an electric storage water heater, positioning GE to be the first company to meet the energy-saving standard. According to DOE, using devices that meet these criteria should save American households approximately $780 million.
ORNL's Patrick Hughes said the water heater will benefit consumers with its energy efficiency as well as its cost savings.
"It will give you as much hot water and have the same recovery times so you won't run out of hot water, but it will use half the energy to do so," Hughes said. "A typical family of four based on national averages would save between $250 and $300 per year."
Hughes also noted that the device will qualify for Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency, which can cover up to 30 percent of the cost of nonsolar water heaters (up to a maximum of $1,500). Given the annual cost savings and the tax incentive, Hughes estimates that the water heater will pay for itself in about 3 years.
Hughes hopes that as word spreads about the new efficiency-doubling water heaters, demand will skyrocket.
"Annually, about four and a half to five million electric storage water heaters are shipped," Hughes said. "When this becomes commercially available, I would hope that there would be a growth in the share of those four to five million units that become hybrid electric water heaters that provide the same amenity but use half the energy while doing it."
GE’s hybrid electric water heaters may be available to consumers as early as October 2009, and production will start in Louisville in 2011. Over subsequent years the new facility could provide up to 1,600 green jobs.