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The efficiency ratings of electric water heaters have taken a huge leap forward in recent years with the rapid improvement of hybrid heat pump water heater technology. Where standard electric water heaters can still waste up to 30% of the electricity used to make hot water, the latest and best heat pump water heaters can actually heat water at a ratio up to 4:1, that is, 400% of the electricity used, meaning that for every dollar you spend on electricity, four dollars’ worth of “electric” hot water is created. How can a water heater have an efficiency of over 100%? By pulling heat that is in the surrounding air, only a small portion of the heat required is actually “generated” by electricity; the rest is already naturally in the air!

Hybrid heat pump water heaters are a great choice for homeowners who are looking to save money on their electricity bills, as well as for homeowners who are focused on helping the environment by reducing emissions and protecting resources.

Is a “hybrid” water heater the same as a “heat pump” water heater?

Almost invariably, they are the same thing when talking about today’s technologies. A “hybrid” water heater is a unit where an electric heating element supplies part of the heating power of the unit, and another method supplies the rest of the heat. Most, if not all, of today’s hybrid heaters use a heat pump as their second method of heating water, and conversely, most heat pump water heaters use an electric element as a second source of heat. So today, in 2023, we can use the terms “hybrid” water heaters and “heat pump” water heaters almost interchangeably.

The economic benefits of heat pump water heaters

Heat pump water heaters cost more upfront than standard water heaters, but over time, the homeowner should realize the initial cost plus much more. The Department of Energy estimates that the average home can save $350 every year, or $3500 over the minimum expected 10-year service life of a heat pump water heater unit.

In addition, there are currently many incentives available from the federal government and power companies that can immediately offset the cost of installing a heat pump water heater. In Maryland, for 2023 there is a Federal Tax Credit of up to $2000 for installing a high-efficiency water heater, and local power companies offer an instant rebate of $700-800 dollars as well. So, in addition to significant realized savings each and every year, homeowners can offset a significant amount of the initial cost of the water heater immediately upon purchase.

What are the best heat pump water heater options on the market in 2023?

At Service Force Plumbing, we’ve installed thousands of water heaters over twenty-plus years as a top-rated local provider, so we know which brands and models have value and which ones don’t. Here are our top 5 recommendations for heat pump water heaters in 2023:

  1. STATE brand Premier AL Smart Heat Pump Water HeaterHere at Service Force Plumbing in Maryland, we favor and recommend State brand water heaters to all our customers for two reasons. First, we have found that they use the highest quality components available for every aspect of their heaters, and second, in the rare case we do need to do warranty work, our plumbing supply company can always get the needed parts quickly, minimizing downtime for hot water needs. And our experience with all of State’s products is that there are rarely warranty calls. Given all that, our top recommended heat pump water heater is STATE’s top-end unit, the Premier AL Smart water heater. Standout features include:
    • The highest efficiency on the market (4.02 for the 66-gallon model)
    • The quietest operation on the market (45dBa)
    • Smart Anode
    • Integrated Smart Connectivity (WiFi and Bluetooth)
    • Integrated Leak Detection
  2. STATE brand Premier Heat Pump Water HeaterThis is the second tier of State’s Hybrid line, and we are putting second on our list, not because it is better than other brands’ top units, but because it is the best unit for customers whose budget can’t quite justify the priciest options.The State Premier units:
    • Have a UEF of 3.45 for every size (50gal, 66gal, 80gal)
    • Quiet operation (51dBa)
    • The build quality we have come to trust at Service Force Plumbing
    • Smart Connectivity can be added
    • Leak Detection can be added
  3. AO SMITH Voltex XE AL Smart Hybrid Water HeaterThis AO Smith model is virtually the same as our #1 choice by State. Again, availability for our local customers in Maryland is the biggest difference in our rating assessment. If you live in a different location, AO Smith’s products might be more convenient, and we would recommend their products just as highly as State’s products
    • As quiet as the comparable STATE heater
    • UEF is comparable to STATE as well
    • Smart Anode
    • Integrated Smart Connectivity (WiFi and Bluetooth)
    • Integrated Leak Detection
  4. RHEEM Platinum ProTerra Hybrid Electric Water Heater with LeakGuard This top-of-the-line unit by Rheem is our third choice for its high performance numbers, though it is not one of our preferred brands. In our area in Maryland, supply-house grade water heaters and parts by Rheem are not as rapidly available as our preferred brands, and we have not found the build quality to be as consistently high, either.Rheem also sells water heaters at big box stores like Home Depot, but those models – although they look the same – are usually made with inferior parts to keep costs down, and often the big box store handles the warranty rather than the actual manufacturer.The ProTerra does have good performance numbers, though, only slightly lower than our #1 rated heater:
    • UEF of up to 4.00 (for 80gal)
    • Noise level is closer to second-tier State (49dBA)
    • Integrated Smart Connectivity (only WiFi)
    • Integrated Leak Detection and Shutoff
  5. BRADFORD WHITE AeroTherm Series Heat Pump Water Heater Overall, Bradford White makes excellent products, but their heat pump water heaters fall short of the other units on this list, so we rank them high for quality but not as high for performance and features.Features include:
    • UEF of only 3.45
    • 50 dBA (claimed)
    • Only Top Tank water connections
    • Smart Connectivity
    • Leak detection available as an add-on.


The technology for heat pump water heaters is improving rapidly, and many consumers are choosing to make the upgrade to reduce their water bill, help the environment, or both. We’ve listed the top options for units based on our experience. If you are considering buying a heat pump water heater in 2023, put these recommendations to use in your own region of the country, or if you are in Service Force Plumbing’s service area in Maryland, give us a call – we’d love to help!