Smart system to optimize energy use of water heaters

Published on March 20, 2022

A pilot program that will use a smart system to help optimize the energy use of water heaters by having them run during off peak times is being introduced in California.

The program is called WatterSaver and will be offered by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). It will use a system by cloud-based service provider Virtual Peaker. PG&E says integrating Virtual Peaker’s cloud-based energy response platform will turn water heaters into smart, secure, networked energy storage assets.

The goal of the program is to provide up to 2.5 megawatts of peak electricity load reduction by the end of 2025. The companies say the effort will also promote further energy efficiency, increase grid reliability and support increased renewable energy generation.

The pilot is expected to be the largest of its kind in the United States, according to the companies, and will optimize water heaters that are compatible for the network system upgrades for 5,000 to 9,000 customers. The program will also offer incentives to customers to heat water when electricity prices are lower.

Water heaters account for nearly 20% of electricity use in a home or building, according to the Department of Energy. Smart systems and products have been introduced in similar high energy service areas, such as an HVAC platform or commercial buildings by Turntide Technologies that offers sustainable fan and cooling systems.

PG&E has been active in offering other energy efficiency programs in northern California. The utility is offering a virtual power plant program to 100 homes in its service area and is backing the 300 megawatt battery storage Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility.

The utility also recently started a program that turns cow manure from dairy farms into renewable natural gas.

PG&E will run the WatterSaver program, which is supported by the California Public Utilities Commission. WatterSaver is being implemented by Energy Solutions in addition to Virtual Peake and the program will run through the end of 2025.

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