Pilot Addresses Barriers to Heat Pump Water Heater Permits

May 20, 2024

Partnering with the Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN), TECH Clean California’s Streamlining Permitting Pilot team shed light on widespread residential heat pump water heater adoption in California. The team focused on inefficient or burdensome permitting practices for heat pump water heaters compared to those for traditional water heaters.

The pilot team created resources for building departments and installers alike as best practices references for heat pump water heater permitting. These materials include the Heat Pump Water Heater Permit Guide, Heat Pump Water Heater Supplemental Permit Template, and the Electrical Load Estimator which can be requested for public use at techcleanca.com/pilots/permitting-pilot.

To help support adoption of these resources, the team conducted both quantitative and qualitative research on existing permitting practices and concluded that these resources were useful as reference tools, and that training sessions would be most effective at breaking down barriers to permitting and installation. The pilot team found that while the statewide average time to issue a permit for a heat pump water heater is 5.9 days, permitting timelines and challenges vary widely by jurisdiction as shown in the Data Analysis Report.

Specific to permitting a heat pump water heater upgrade (rather than a gas-to-gas water heater replacement), the most common barriers faced were a lack of technical knowledge about technology itself by building department staff, the lack of a standardized permitting process across jurisdictions, and the difficulties that contractors face when managing differing permitting rules and guidelines.

The analysis also suggests that providing direct learning opportunities tailored to address the specific knowledge gaps of local building and permitting departments will be important in the development and implementation of a streamlined, single day permitting process for heat pump water heaters.

TECH Clean California encourages important next steps to include the design and widespread implementation of these learning opportunities, and direct support for jurisdictional partners.

Visit techcleanca.com/pilots/permitting-pilot to learn more about this pilot by reading the full report and downloading resources.

The TECH Clean California initiative is funded by California ratepayers and taxpayers and administered by Southern California Edison Company under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission. The TECH Clean California team is led by Energy Solutions and partners with Ardenna Energy, Association of Energy Affordability, Building Decarbonization Coalition, Electrify My Home, Frontier Energy, National Comfort Institute, Energy Outlet, Recurve Analytics, The Ortiz Group, Tre’ Laine Associates, and VEIC.