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Hybrid Water Heater 
Image by General Electric Company 
A new generation of appliances and mechanical equipment will save energy and costs, while reducing pollution, without their owners needing to even know.

A good example is the latest type of hot water heater, which uses hybrid technology to save energy and super-smart internal controls to reduce peak demand.

Hot water heaters are the largest energy users in U.S. households behind heating and cooling systems. They typically consume more energy than a household’s refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer and clothes dryer combined.

A hybrid water heater has a standard electric heating element, but also uses heat pump technology to draw heat from the air in the room to warm the water in the tank. It can reduce energy use by up to 60%.

The water heater can use the heat pump to warm the water slowly – this is a gradual process because the heat extracted from the air is modest – but utilize the less efficient electric heating only when required by high demand. This would occur in the morning, for instance, when several family members were showering, and the heat pump cannot keep up. Other times, the machine can take its time in heating and keeping a full tank of hot water.

So-called “demand response” will use Smart Grid technology to sense peak times when utilities are charging more for electricity, and defer energy consumption to non-peak times. Using off-peak power reduces environmental consequences as well as saves money.