According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating water accounts for fully 18 percent of the typical household's annual energy consumption, second only to the amount of energy consumed to heat and cool their residence. And because the typical tank water heater keeps 40 to 50 gallons of water piping hot 24 hours a day, seven days a week--whether or not anyone is home to use it--20 to 50 percent of the energy is completely wasted. Following an aborted crowd-funding campaign in late 2014, Aquanta (formerly Sunnovations) is now taking pre-orders on its Aquanta "learning" water-heater controller, which it expects to ship in July. In a note to its would-be backers when it cancelled its Kickstarter campaign, the team said while its campaign was unsuccessful, the exposure it garnered lead to "a sizable number of large and exciting strategic and distribution partners to contact us." Fast forward 18 months and Aquanta CEO Matthew Carlson tells me his company has "had test units in the field for more than a year."
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.
Here's the Flo installed in my house. I have had the misfortune to experience the results of two leaks inside my home. Trust me when I tell you that if you haven't gone through this, you really have no idea how bad it can get. The first occurred quite some time ago. I went to work in the morning, worked a long day, and came home... to my basement apartment filled with five inches of water. My cat was cowering on my bed, clearly quite freaked out.
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.
Pop quiz: What type of property-loss claim do homeowners most commonly file with insurance companies? Here's a hint: It's not due to fire. According to statistics The Travelers Indemnity Company collected between 2009 and 2015, water damage--from frozen/broken pipes, leaky toilets, busted water heaters, and the like--is a more common property loss than theft or even fire. To help reduce those claims, which can result in higher insurance premiums for homeowners, the team behind the Roost smart smoke alarm and the Roost smart smoke-alarm battery announced on Wednesday the Roost Smart Water and Freeze Detector, a 50 sensor that will detect the presence of water, extreme temperature, and high humidity in your home. The device will send a push notification to your smartphone if any of those parameters get out of whack, so you can take action to prevent or reduce water and/or mildew damage.