‘Smart’ water heater benefits residents and renewable goals

by Michael Choe | Jan. 5, 2023

In October I received a notice from my condo’s management offering smart water heater installations. My first two questions were, “What is that?” and “How will it affect me?”

A large portion of Hawaii’s renewable energy is generated from solar power during the day, but peak energy demand is in the evening when the sun isn’t shining. Lights are turned on, dinner is being prepared and all kinds of technology is used to enjoy the rest of the night. Having a smart water heater using a ‘Grid Interactive Water Heater Controller’ is a step toward reducing stress on the electric grid during those peak times.

Hawaiian Electric partnered with OATI as a resource aggregator, who in turn partnered with Shifted Energy for the smart water heater portion of their aggregation portfolio. These partnerships offer Hawaiian Electric customers on Oahu and Maui a demand response opportunity that helps support the grid and reduce energy bills. The devices are programmed to turn on during the day while solar power is abundant and turn off at night during peak energy periods. This means that renewable energy will be used to heat water and store it for when it’s needed rather than having the water heater draw power during peak hours from fossil-fuel generators.

Shifted Energy came by and installed the smart water heater for me, which took about 15 minutes. The representative was accompanied by Shifted Energy Director of Commercial Programs Nicole Lemas Rodriguez, who provided a wealth of information.

As they turned off the circuit breaker and installed the water heater controller, Nicole explained other benefits. The device can detect issues such as leaks, allowing me to address any damages immediately before they become a bigger problem. Also, a $3 monthly electric bill credit is awarded for participating in the program.

The smart water heater is part of one of many customer incentive programs offered by Hawaiian Electric and various partners. Visit our website to learn more about other incentive programs that can benefit you and help Hawaii reach its renewable energy goals.

Michael Choe is a digital communications and social media specialist.

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Hawaiian Electric

Established in 1891, Hawaiian Electric is committed to empowering its customers and communities by providing affordable, reliable, clean and sustainable energy.