A Cute Water Heater

November/December 2008
A version of this article appears in the November/December 2008 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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November 06, 2008
Yes, there are cute water heaters. ECO-CUTE is a Japanese trademark and nickname for heat pump water heaters that use CO2 as a refrigerant. (Cute is the pronunciation of “hot water supply” in Japanese. Whether the technology is cute or not is in the eye of the beholder.) Water heating is one of the biggest single energy consumers in Japanese households. Maybe that’s because of the climate, or maybe it’s because we Japanese love to take baths. It takes 50 gallons of hot water to fill a typical Japanese bathtub, and the typical single-family household uses around 100 gallons of hot water a day. That helps to explain why high-efficiency heat pump water heaters are so popular in Japan. The ECO-CUTE water heater comes in two standard models. The 370 l tank, which holds approximately 100 gallons and is suitable for a family of three to five people, has a heating capacity of 4.5 kW. The 460 l tank, which holds approximately 120 gallons and is suitable for a family of four to seven people, has a heating capacity of 6 kW. The heat pump unit and the tank unit are connected by water pipes and are installed outside the house. Both ...

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