Aquanta first came to our attention manner again in 2014 with a quite simple however very intelligent concept: a tool that controls your water heater so it produces scorching water solely whenever you want it, as an alternative of preserving 40 or 50 gallons of water scorching 24/7. Since then, Aquanta has principally labored with public utilities to get its product into houses. The firm is now promoting its controller direct to shoppers, and after spending some high quality time with a assessment unit, I believe it’s a robust worth.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating water accounts for about 18 percent of a home’s energy consumption. That makes it the second-largest contributor to your energy-related utility invoice (after heating and cooling), at a price to the common household of $400 to $600 yearly. You can consider a standard tank water heater as an enormous thermos. It heats up 40 or 50 gallons of water and strives to maintain all that water scorching in order that it’s out there any time you want it. But should you’re like most individuals, you in all probability want plenty of scorching water just a few occasions a day: within the morning for a bathe, within the night to scrub dishes, and perhaps simply a few occasions every week to run your dishwasher and wash your garments.
One answer can be to interchange your standard tank water heater with a tankless mannequin that heats water on demand. The Energy Department estimates that these home equipment are two to three times more efficient than a tank water heater. But not solely are they costly, you’ll in all probability want each an expert electrician and an expert plumber to put in one. What’s extra, the company says you may not recoup the acquisition and set up price by way of decrease utility payments earlier than the unit wears out and must be changed.
Four management choices
An Aquanta controller prices $149 and you may set up it your self in about 20 minutes. There are fashions for each electrical and natural-gas/propane water heaters, however there isn’t a plumbing concerned. The gadget presents 4 methods of controlling your water heater, balancing your need for warm water with saving power. Aquanta Intelligence, the default selection, depends on an algorithm that analyzes your scorching water consumption and robotically turns the water heater on and off accordingly. You can select from three fashions right here: Less Efficient, Efficient, and Most Efficient.
The second possibility is finest for individuals who comply with a strictly regimented schedule: You can set timers that can flip the water heater on and off at specified occasions. This possibility is just like the pre-Nest-era programable HVAC thermostats in that it permits you to create one schedule for each day of the week; one schedule for weekdays and one other for weekends; or one schedule for weekdays, a second for Saturdays, and a 3rd for Sundays).
The third possibility is for electrical water heater homeowners whose utility presents a “time of day” fee that makes electrical energy dearer throughout occasions of peak demand and cheaper throughout off-peak hours. Just choose your particular utility from a drop-down menu. This will fireplace up your water heater solely when power prices are decrease.
Finally, a thermostat management possibility retains your water at an outlined temperature. This is clearly the least environment friendly methodology, and it may well’t elevate the temperature past the tank’s mechanical set level anyway, however should you’re tremendous choosy about water temperature, the choice is there.
If you need to save much more power, and you may bear in mind to do it, you’ll be able to faucet an Away button within the app to inform the controller to show the water heater off since you received’t be residence to wish scorching water. You can select both a Now setting or specify a future time that you simply’ll be gone, after which point out the time the Away interval ought to finish and water heating ought to resume.
This can be most helpful whenever you go away residence for a trip or a weekend getaway, as a result of Aquanta’s algorithm can’t react quick sufficient to acknowledge that you simply’re not utilizing the same old quantity of scorching water.
If you anticipate a sudden want for extra scorching water than standard, you’ll be able to click on a Boost button within the app, specify when the increase interval ought to begin (now or sooner or later sooner or later), and the way lengthy it ought to final. This may be anyplace from 30 minutes to a full two weeks (a handy possibility should you’re having long-term company, for instance).
I used the Aquanta Intelligence possibility throughout my analysis interval, which determines the share of scorching water that’s out there primarily based on readings from a pair of temperature sensors (extra on that in a bit). The algorithm takes a number of different info into consideration as effectively, together with the water heater’s capability, the variety of adults and youngsters residing within the residence, and the fixtures and home equipment that use scorching water (garments washer, dishwasher, single-handle taps, and so forth).
Our Aquanta expertise
I used to be happy to see that the temperature of my scorching water didn’t fluctuate a lot in any respect. The app constantly reported the temperature inside a spread of about 126 levels Fahrenheit to 134 levels F. The lowest share I ever noticed the “hot water available” studying dip to was about 86 %—and that was on a day after we ran our dishwasher within the morning as a result of we washed just a few dozen jars in preparation for canning. I ought to disclose, nevertheless, that I’ve a separate tankless water heater for the double bathe in my grasp lavatory. My standard tank heater, however, provides my dishwasher, washer, visitor lavatory tub/bathe, and all of the sinks in the home.
The Aquanta app shows graphs representing your power consumption on a every day, weekly, and month-to-month foundation, and this may be tracked in therms, BTUs (British Thermal Units), or kWhs (kilowatt hours). The app additionally reviews your common every day, weekly, and month-to-month power utilization; your lowest utilization in the course of the given interval; and whether or not your utilization is on the upswing or downswing.
My weekly reviews point out my heaviest utilization happens Friday by Monday morning, which is smart as a result of these are the times my spouse is residence with me. She’s at her job in San Francisco the remainder of the week. We hire an residence for her there as a result of it’s 180 miles away. My scorching water utilization begins to go up on Thursday as I do laundry and run the dishwasher earlier than she will get residence.
What the Aquanta app doesn’t do is put this reporting in a significant context. While it’s enlightening to see utilization traits, I’d be much more fascinated by seeing how my family’s scorching water utilization compares to equally sized households. Do we use kind of the common quantity of power to warmth water? In equity, Aquanta may not but have a big sufficient put in base of customers to offer such evaluation. Perhaps that function will come later.
How it really works
So, how does the Aquanta do its factor? The predominant management unit hosts two temperature probes, one that you simply strap to the water heater’s cold-water provide and one which will get strapped to its temperature and stress (T&P) aid valve. The latter measures the temperature of the water within the tank, and the previous determines how a lot scorching water is accessible (a calculation primarily based partially on the scale of the tank and what number of occasions water flows by the pipe to refill it). Neither probe is a lab-grade instrument, however they get the job completed with no need an intrusive set up.
Aquanta additionally presents an optionally available leak sensor that you may plug in and place within the water heater’s drain pan. Should your water heater fail, water will accumulate within the drain pan and set off the leak sensor to ship a push notification to the Aquanta app. The similar will occur in case your T&P valve opens because of dangerously overheated water or too-high stress within the tank (though the T&P valve on my tank was plumbed to empty outdoors the home). The controller ought to, nevertheless, shut down your water heater earlier than it will get uncontrolled.
Should the probe detect water, a too-quiet alarm on the management unit will begin beeping, and the app will provide you with a warning to the leak (even when the app is not open). The sensor wasn’t almost as responsive as both the Flo by Moen or Roost leak sensors I’ve reviewed beforehand, but it surely’s nonetheless a superb purchase for an extra $25. In addition to alerting me to the presence of water extra rapidly, these two gadgets also can monitor different environmental circumstances, akin to ambient temperature and humidity. Both of these merchandise price twice as a lot as Aquanta’s add-on sensor.
Once you’ve put in the Aquanta and attached its probes, you’ll join the controller to your 2.4GHz Wi-Fi community and set up the app in your smartphone (Android/iOS). Aquanta offers hooks to IFTTT that you need to use to set off different sensible residence gadgets. One instance can be to have your sensible bulbs flash or flip colour if the controller detects a water leak.
If you’re constructing out a wise residence, the subsequent water heater you purchase will probably be a wise mannequin. But for $149, you’ll be able to reap the money- and energy-saving advantages of a wise water heater along with your current equipment.
There’s room for enchancment in Aquanta’s app. It asks plenty of questions on your water heater and your family, which its algorithm takes into consideration, however I’d prefer to see a comparability of my scorching water use and power consumption to related customers. The optionally available leak sensor has some limitations, but it surely’s cheap sufficient that I’d recommending including it to your order.