The GE hybrid water heater uses heat-pump technology to make it one of the only electric water heaters certified by Energy Star -- qualifying it for the 30 percent federal tax credit as well as state "cash for appliances" rebates and other Energy Star incentives. The 2.35 Energy Factor rating is outstanding and should cut the cost of heating water in half. The heat pump is built into a regular storage-tank water heater, so this hybrid model doesn't require much extra installation when it replaces a regular electric water heater. The heat pump puts out cold air into the surrounding space -- a plus for homes in hot climates. For most homes, though, a hybrid water heater is best situated in space without air conditioning such as a garage, basement or attic. This also minimizes annoyance from the fan noise.
You can run this water heater in pure heat-pump mode for maximum savings, in hybrid mode when you need faster water heating or in regular electric water-heater mode. The GE hybrid is a good bet for all-electric homes, but a less expensive gas water heater like the Rheem FVR NATGAS 22V40F1 (*Est. $260) may save as much in utility bills and heat water much faster.
We found the best reviews of the GE GeoSpring Hybrid water heater at ConsumerReports.org, where it's run through preliminary tests, and in a forum discussion at WaterHeaterRescue.com, where it's compared in detail to a Rheem hybrid water heater. The reviews at Fine Homebuilding magazine and 411plumb.com are by experts but don't document any testing or use, but more than a dozen owners review the GE hybrid at Lowes.com. At BuilderOnline.org, a survey of builders and contractors compares water-heater brands for quality, and a similar survey at J. D. Power and Associates covers Rheem, the company that makes GE water heaters.
Our Sources: GE Water Heater Reviews
This brief review reports on preliminary tests at ConsumerReports.org of the GE hybrid water heater. These first tests cover it in hybrid mode (one of four modes available), so the water heater uses both the heat pump and the heating elements.
Review: Review of the GE GeoSpring Electric Heat-Pump Water Heater, Dave Trezza and Gian Trotta, March 11, 2010
The GE water heater edges out the Rheem hybrid water heater in this forum discussion based on the GE hybrid's more efficient design plus the fact that it uses a replaceable anode. An owner also reviews the GE hybrid here, reporting that the fan is a little noisy, but that for two people, the unit runs only in heat-pump mode for maximum energy savings.
Review: Heat Pump Water Heaters -- GE vs. Rheem, Contributors to WaterHeaterRescue.com, As of June 2010
3. Fine Homebuilding
This brief review on the Fine Homebuilding blog includes an illustration of the digital control panel and notes that GE estimates the average installation cost at $1,500, effectively doubling the price (though the federal tax credit applies to the total installed price). A handful of readers weigh in, most disappointed at the pricing.
Review: Promising New Water Heater from GE, Brian Pontolilo, Jan. 20, 2010
In this brief preview, a plumber recommends the GE hybrid water heater based on its features and the energy efficiency that qualifies it for Energy Star certification and thus for many incentives that lower the installed cost, including Weatherization Assistance grants for homeowners who qualify for them.
Review: GE GEH50DNSRSA Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater, Editor of 411plumb.com, October 2009
Twenty owners give the GE hybrid water heater a total of 4.5 stars out of 5 on this retailer website.
Review: GE 50-Gallon GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater, Contributors to Lowes.com
GE ranks in the middle for quality in comparison with 12 other water-heater brands in this 2007 survey of more than 3,400 builders and contractors.
Review: 2008 Builder Brand Study, Editors of BuilderOnline.org, March 31, 2008
7. J.D. Power and Associates
GE isn't among the four brands covered in this survey of nearly 900 contractors and subcontractors, but Rheem/Ruud, the company that makes GE water heaters, ranks second to Bradford White.
Review: HVAC and Water Heater/Boiler Subcontractor Satisfaction Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, September 2006