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A new air-pollution solution

Original post made on Feb 16, 2019

The city of Palo Alto has launched a pilot program to encourage residents to replace their traditional gas water heaters with heat pump water heaters that operate with electricity.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 14, 2019, 11:48 AM

Comments (13)

Posted by David Coale
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 16, 2019 at 1:59 pm

Great article on Heat Pump Water Heaters (HPWH). I have one and it is great. Three times more efficient than a gas or regular electric water heater. And with the city rebate, you only have to pay for installation. This does need an electrical circuit to be installed but the savings are worth it.

One very important thing, as was mentioned, is to do your research ahead of time and replace the old one before it is an emergency. If your water heater is 10 years old or older, now is the time to change it out before it starts to leak. Check the date on the water heater and act accordingly!



Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 16, 2019 at 2:39 pm

"The challenge is that when your water heater goes out it's an emergency."

My clean electricity here fails much more often than my evil natural gas.

Not an emergency, because I have candles and flashlights, and a gas water heater.


Posted by Electricity Is OK For Some Things But...
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 16, 2019 at 3:18 pm

Gas stove + gas water heater here & forever.

When the electricity goes out for one reason or another, an electric stove is useless. Same with the microwave oven. Prefer gas range for cooking...better flame/heat control.

How many restaurants have you been to where they use electric ranges?

Bad enough that food stored in the refrigerator/freezer can go bad.

An electric water heater during an outage? I don't like taking cold showers, do you?

A balance between gas & electricity works best. No need to be a green-fanatic.

What's next...an electric barbecue?



I'm sticking with gas!


Posted by David Coale
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 16, 2019 at 8:51 pm

The electricity in Palo Alto is out only about once a year for a few hours at most, so this is not really an issue. With a heat pump water heater you will have 50 gallons of hot water that will last most power outages and this is 50 gallons of water if the water supply goes out in the "big one". So, if you want to take a shower with your candles and flashlight, you can do this with a HPWH. If you have a tank-less gas water heater, you are out of luck for hot water and water storage.

Induction cooking is actually faster to heat and cool then gas; you should try it! Everyone that has induction cooking will not switch back to gas because they love it so much. Yes, no cooking in a power outage but this is unlikely in Palo Alto. The air quality is much better with induction cooking and even in restaurants induction cooking is beneficial in that the kitchen is much cooler, fire hazard is greatly reduced and the cooks have far fewer burns then with gas.

Change can be hard, but in the end, I really don't care how I get hot water, heat my house or cook my food. If it is better, faster, cheaper, and more efficient, that is what I want.




Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 17, 2019 at 12:13 am

Oh well, even cigarettes are electric now.


Posted by Electricity Is OK For Some Things But...
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 17, 2019 at 8:06 am

Now in the event of an earthquake (as in 1989), all bets are off. The restaurants that still had power were jam packed.

Thus a Weber kettle (with charcoal) or a Weber Genysis (gas grill) can get you through.

When it comes to a major emergency, no one is going to care about a 'spare the air' day.

The same goes for fireplaces when the gas or electricty is off & it's wintertime.

The green people will say 'dress in layers' which works for some.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2019 at 8:32 am

The question to me is how will our electricity supply cope with all the new drains. With all the EVs, the electrification of Caltrain, the new residents, we have at a State level more need for more power and at a city level we are still dependent on one supply that is coming in across the Bay and can be lost for the best part of a business day by a plane flying into a pylon.

Now I know that those types of accidents don't happen more than once in a lifetime, but the questions have to be asked how our power supply today is better than it has been in the past, and just how much more drains on the supply can it take without vast overhaul?


Posted by Home batteries
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 17, 2019 at 8:38 am

Home batteries is a registered user.

For all the reasons you mention, there are a few companies developing home batteries. Here is an example of one:Web Link It's not cheap, but I'd expect prices to come down over time. It says it can cover 7+ days of outage. This kind of thing would certainly be needed in colder areas, as home heating goes electric. I'm curious if anyone reading this has installed something like this, maybe with solar panels? (Solar has the same issue of unreliability, but it's more or less reliably unreliable!)


Posted by Sigh
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 17, 2019 at 6:27 pm

There was a time, not so many years ago, when the city was pushing people to switch from electric to gas, for pollution reasons. I understand that our electricity supply mixed changed in the meantime. However, it is tiring to have the city tell us to do one thing to then do a 180 and tell us to do the opposite. We are not all filthy rich residents who can change everything on a whim.


Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 17, 2019 at 7:21 pm

"A furnace or dryer nearby can heat the nearby air and help with the water heater's efficiency."

Lessee if I got this straight: The HPWH cools the air around it, so we need a heater working nearby to make up for that cooling. OK, that's weird enough. But how do we factor in the expenses and pollution of operating that other heater in support of the HPWH?

Seems to me there's a better solution just waiting for somebody to invent it.


Posted by Rolanda
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 17, 2019 at 9:17 pm

Nuclear energy is very cost efficient for producing electricity. There is plenty of land in our city (EPA) to build one...preferably near the water for cooling purposes.


Posted by Neal
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 20, 2019 at 6:44 am

Neal is a registered user.

"For every unit of energy input, you get three units of output," Kelty said. Seems to defy the laws of physics. What am I missing?

What do these units cost? How many amps of electricity do they draw? Is this 120V or 240V?


Posted by Tom
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 21, 2019 at 9:44 am

I've got a 50 gallon heat pump water heater and I love it. It uses about 500 Watts of electricity and takes about 1,000 Watts of heat from my basement and puts all 1,500 Watts of heat into the water tank. It's not magic, it's just using clean electricity to upgrade other sources of low temperature heat into useful heat. The same way your refrigerator (another heat pump) extracts heat from the freezer at 5F and pumps it into the kitchen at 75F (a 70 degree uphill lift), my water heater does the 70 degree lift from my 55 degree basement to my 125 degree hot water tank.


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