GeoSpring hybrid water heater - Snow Monkeying around

Monkeying around with water heating controls

While watching the winter Olympics I saw the great ad for the new GE GeoSpring hybrid water heater.  If you missed the ad with the snow monkeys chilling out in the heated water it can be seen here.  The new GE hybrid water heater is called a hybrid because it is a combination of an electric water heater and an air-source heat pump.

GE describes how the unit works in the GeoSpring Hybrid water heater features:

A compressor and evaporator are integrated into the electric water heater unit and the evaporator draws in ambient heat from surrounding air using two variable speed fans. Condenser coils wrap the tank all the way to the bottom to transfer this heat into the tank and heat the water.

This innovative process creates the same amount of hot water as a traditional electric water heater, but can reduce water heating expenses up to 62% to save $320* per year. And that could have a dramatic impact on monthly utility bills for years to come!

On the link describing the water heater's ability to save energy GE states: "Cut water heating energy usage by up to 62%". It seems that they arrive at this number by comparing the Energy Factor (EF) of their hybrid heater (2.35) to that of a standard electric water heater (.88).  Energy Factor is defined by the DOE as:

The energy factor (EF) indicates a water heater's overall energy efficiency based on the amount of hot water produced per unit of fuel consumed over a typical day

I have no doubts that the hybrid water heater from GE is more efficient than a standard electrical water heater (the electric water heating energy cost calculator GE puts up on their site helps), but what about compared to heating with another water heating method which is natural gas?  To compare this you would need to compare the EF of a natural gas water heater to the GE hybrid heater while also taking into account the cost difference between what you pay for natural gas vs. electricity...which will mean you will probably have to do a conversion between therms (the units usually used to express natural gas consumption) and kWh (electric consumption).   It obviously gets a little complicated when comparing different methods of heating water!  This page from the California Energy Commission (CEC) is a great resource for comparing water heating methods.

The CEC estimates that heating with natural gas will cost users 1/3 the cost of heating with a standard electric heater...but if the GE hybrid heater is 3 times more efficient than a standard electric water heater then a natural gas heater and a hybrid water heater from GE would cost users the same amount to operate! ***this obviously depends on the rate you pay for natural gas and electricity

One of the Mapawatt team members has an electric hybrid water heater that is even more efficient than GE's; but only because his hybrid water heater is electric and solar thermal.

If you're interested in buying the new GE heater, the good news is that you are probably eligible for an energy star appliance rebate!  Using their online water heater store I determined that the GeoSpring has a list price of $1,699, but this doesn't include any installation costs.  Here's my advice if you are in the market for a water heater:

  • If you definitely need a new water heater and you heat with electric, then the GeoSpring seems like a great choice.  Do some more research, install one, and tell us how it works!
  • If you already have an efficient electric water heater than you will have to compare the initial purchase price (minus rebates) vs. your annual energy savings.  Yes, this requires a little more work on your part but you will be smarter afterward.
  • If you heat with natural gas chances are it may be hard to justify the higher initial purchase price of the GE water heater.  Do the analysis though and don't be afraid to ask for help in the comments below if you need it!
  • If you want to live off-grid then you can't use this water heater anyway (unless you had solar PV or a wind turbine and wanted to use that electricity for a water heater?).  Just install a solar thermal water heating system and take cold showers when it is raining outside :)
enjoyed our post? let others know: 


It's a refrigerator working in reverse, and the first thing to remember about refrigeration is, it doesn't make cold, it removes heat. Did you ever notice your fridge puts out heat? That's the heat that WAS in the box. If this thing is removing ambient heat from say, my basement to heat water, isn't it also blowing the cold it removed from my 58 degree well water into my basement? And would I not need to use another source to replace that heat? Maybe not a big deal for a basement, but in a small utility closet, you will notice it being colder, just as a refrigerator would heat up a small space. This is why your air conditioner condenser is OUTSIDE! I think a 95% natural gas water heater would be more efficient than this thing.
I just installed two GE units. One in the attic and one in the utility room. The utility room has a small room where the old heater was located, 30" x 30", so I installed a louvered door so the air could flow. The attic location is great, it helps keep the attic cooler. The install was simple on the lower level, but did not even come close to being fun on the attic install (100 lb straight up). Operation is not quite, but is tolerable. There are three fans, I think, running when operating. Two for the intake and one for the exhaust (cold air). I operate the attic unit in hybrid mode and the in-house unit in e-mode (only heat pump). Have not seen the first electric bill so the jury is out on money savings. I am hoping for real savings since the two units I pulled out pegged the "uses the most energy" on the cost label. FYI, the in-house unit was a monster 87gal money grabbing machine.
Michael, let us know when you get a utility bill with the two units. I'd be interested to see how they perform!
I've been researching water heaters quite a bit and have some questions and some thoughts. 1. Are the REEM and the GeoSpring water heater the same? (I think they are, but why the different name). 2. From an environmental perspective, is the Marathon heater better (I think no, but am not sure why all the uber-green people get the Marathon then)? 3. If the GeoSpring uses a heat pump, it takes heat out of the existing air, right? Then are your energy savings from this process offset by loses from taking heat out of your house? 4. How often does GE come out with new products? Should I wait for a version with a quieter fan? I few thoughts. 1. I've looked into getting a solar water heater, and this, I think, is a much better deal. The three bids I've received for solar water heater all put it around $10,000 to $12,000 with a $300 annual savings in water heating cost. This would provide the same thing for a fraction of the cost. 2. If you want to live off the grid (which is an eventual goal of mine), I think the best thing to do is to buy this heater and use photovoltaics for the heating elements. I've never seen any discussion of how this system compares to a traditional solar water system, but the numbers seem to work out. Any thoughts?
Well the 1st post install bill came and compared to the same period last year, it is $20 less. Now, we live in middle GA and it is a whole lot hotter this year than it was at the same time last year. In fact, not even sure we had the AC on last year at this time. That said, I am happy with the prelim results. We will have to see what happens next month.
I currently have a leaking gas water heater and need to replace it. Is the Eternal Hybrid by Grand Hall a good alternative? Also, I can't seem to find if it's Energy Star Certified so don't know if it qualifies for the federal tax credit. I wouls like to stay with gas for 2 reasons A)Can't afford to retrofit for electric; B) When the power goes out, (which it can during summers of thunderstorms), at least I will still have hot water. Please let me know what you think of this alternative. I've seen mixed reviews on regular gas tankkless water heaters. Thx!
ckmapawatt's picture
Julie, Thanks for your comment. I moved this question over to our forum. Please see my response on <a href="" rel="nofollow">replacing a standard water heater with a hybrid water heater</a>.
What is the minimum temperature for housing the Geospring (model GEH50DNSRSA) by GE? I am considering installing it in a garage in central Texas, where we can have temperatures as low as -2 degrees Fahrenheit (record set in 1949). "Austin averages 88 days below 45 °F (7.2 °C) and 24 days when the minimum temperature falls below freezing," according to Wikipedia.
The specs say the unit will run as a hybrid down to 45 degrees, and as a conventional unit down to freezing. So it should as fine in an unheated garage in Austin as a conventional hot water heater. Just don't lose power to the water heater if the garage goes below freezing. As a benefit, you may find the garage is more pleasant in the summer, and that your water heating costs are even lower than projected because you have more heat to extract and will be maintaining less of a delta between your water temp and ambient. A bigger problem for you in Austin might be the MAX temp that the hybrid unit will accept. I forget the number, but an Austin garage might get close in the summer.
anybody out there have real world experience with the Rheem or GE? Know of a good head to head comparison?


Post new comment

Subscribe to Comments for "GeoSpring hybrid water heater - Snow Monkeying around"