NRTC has just completed an agreement with Aquanta, a Northern Virginia-based company that developed a smart water heater technology. The Aquanta device improves electric consumption efficiency and saves consumer dollars. NRTC and Aquanta are now finishing the details of a program to give NRTC members incentives to add Aquanta technology to their set of demand response tools by the end of the year. Coming soon, NRTC will be sending a communication directly to electric members with details.
Heating and air conditioning tend to be the highest household drains on electricity. Late last year, NRTC signed a deal with Nest Laboratories to help electric cooperatives and their customers contain those costs. Combining water heaters with heating and air often amounts to about two thirds of home electricity consumption.
“We are essentially a smart, grid-enabled thermostat for water heaters,” said Aquanta CEO Matt Carlson. The Aquanta device retrofits to nearly all models of electric water resistance heaters, although not compatible with heat pumps. Installation times tend to be about 45 minutes or less and installation requires minimal plumbing knowledge. The device has an on-board Wi-Fi module (IEEE 802.11n) for communication through the local broadband network.
Once connected, consumers can control their smart water heating systems online with a smartphone interface, similar to Nest’s. “We are part of the Work with Nest ecosystem,” Carlson said. “If a user already has a Nest, Aquanta can be connected to that Nest for enhanced smart home functionality.”
Aquanta controls water heating costs in three potential ways. Consumers can use manual controls to specify the times of day they wish to turn the water heater off; the water heater can communicate with third-party demand response programs to adjust to peak hours, or consumers can use the device’s “learning” capabilities, which are comparable to those of the Nest Learning Thermostat. “Because of the unique analytics capabilities of Aquanta, it can see how much hot water is being used and how much hot water is available, so it avoids the customer running out of hot water,” Carlson said.
The Aquanta technology also can assist cooperatives looking to update aging infrastructure.
“NRTC members have old load control switches out there that are 20-40 years old and are wondering what they’re going to do with them. There are a couple million of them out there,” said Dick Martin, NRTC’s director, Demand Management Solutions. “This is a great solution to replace those old switches with two-way communications, energy savings for the member and control for the utility.”
NRTC members should look for more information about the Aquanta water heater system in the next few days. For immediate information, contact Dick Martin at email@example.com.