Aquanta first came to our attention way back in 2014 with a very simple but very clever idea: a device that controls your water heater so it produces hot water only when you need it, instead of keeping 40 or 50 gallons of water hot 24/7. Since then, Aquanta has mostly worked with public utilities to get its product into homes. The company is now selling its controller direct to consumers, and after spending some quality time with a review unit, I think it's a strong value. That makes it the second-largest contributor to your energy-related utility bill (after heating and cooling), at a cost to the average family of $400 to $600 every year. You can think of a conventional tank water heater as a big thermos.
Four men have been arrested in the theft of $1 million worth of tankless water heaters from a western Michigan warehouse. The Kent County sheriff's office says Thursday that the thefts started several months ago in Cascade Township, near Grand Rapids. On Saturday, deputies stopped two vehicles leaving the warehouse with Bradford White water heaters valued at more than $100,000. Other Bradford White water heaters valued at more than $750,000 were later recovered. They were being sold by word-of-mouth and over the internet.
When the cybersecurity industry warns about the nightmare of hackers causing blackouts, the scenario they describe typically entails an elite team of hackers breaking into the inner sanctum of a power utility to start flipping switches. But one group of researchers has imagined how an entire power grid could be taken down by hacking a less centralized and protected class of targets: home air conditioners and water heaters. At the Usenix Security conference this week, a group of Princeton University security researchers will present a study that considers a little-examined question in power grid cybersecurity: What if hackers attacked not the supply side of the power grid, but the demand side? In a series of simulations, the researchers imagined what might happen if hackers controlled a botnet composed of thousands of silently hacked consumer internet of things devices, particularly power-hungry ones like air conditioners, water heaters, and space heaters. Then they ran a series of software simulations to see how many of those devices an attacker would need to simultaneously hijack to disrupt the stability of the power grid.
Often there seems to be a trade-off between efficiency and cost; the more efficient the product, the more it costs. While long-term costs are harder to estimate, when they are considered, the more efficient a product is, the better for the consumer. As builders and developers seek ways to differentiate their residential properties, adding modern, efficient ecological advances is a growing technique. Tankless water heaters, for example, are rapidly gaining marketshare because of their reputation for running more efficiently, an appealing characteristic given heating water is the average home's second-highest utility cost after heating and cooling the house itself. While switching to tankless from a storage tank water heater has a wide range of benefits, it may not be the ideal option in remodeling due to potential costs to retrofit the plumbing.
Although wind and solar energy are growing in popularity, storing that clean energy costs a lot of money. If consumers wanted to keep their green energy in Tesla's Powerwall home battery, for example, they would have to shell out 3,500. That may be why Tesla discontinued sales of its largest Powerwall a couple weeks ago. Instead of expensive battery storage, utilities are turning to a low-cost alternative: For a just few hundred dollars, your electric water heater can be made to work like a battery, a fraction of the cost of a Tesla Powerwall. If you're a homeowner, you may have noticed a man-sized cylinder in your cellar.