Grid-Enabled Water Heaters
Designed for energy management
Grid-enabled water heaters (GEWHs) are standard electric water heating units 75 gallons or larger. They have built-in software or hardware that limits their performance by 50% unless they’re installed on a utility energy-management program such as our off-peak program that offers discounted rates or a monthly bill credit in exchange for partnering with us to help manage the electric system.
Where to find grid-enabled water heaters
Several manufacturers have introduced GEWH systems within their product line. One that entered the market early is Vaughan Thermal Corporation that distributes their V-Grid Services GEWH units in our service area. To confirm a water heater qualifies as grid-enabled, check the certificate on the AHRIdirectory.org website.
Check our list of dealers ready to install a Vaughn GEWH in your home or business or visit with your plumbing contractor about other options available. (Please note: Otter Tail Power Company does not unlock water heaters. Ensure your contractor is able to unlock your GEWH before purchasing.)
The benefits of grid-enabled water heaters
These types of water heaters not only recognize the importance of energy-control programs, but also help keep your electricity costs low. Even better, GEWHs are eligible for rebates of up to $400.
How grid-enabled water heaters work
GEWHs are a new type of water heating technology designed to meet the Department of Energy's efficiency requirements that went into effect in April 2015. They're more than 90% efficient with efficiency varying by tank size. (Look for the uniform efficiency factor [UEF] rating when selecting a new water heater.)
A qualified contractor must install this type of water heater and will activate the unit’s full capacity once it's connected to our energy control system. We use energy control to manage the electric system during occasional peak events.
- GEWHs require an activation key (software code or mechanical key) to be used during installation to enable the unit to operate at its full design capacity.
- The law intends that GEWHs be activated only when installed as part of a utility thermal storage or demand response program.
- Without activation the GEWH will provide 50% or less of its rated first hour delivery of hot water. This is accomplished by one element remaining off.
- Authorized installers receive access to the required activation key. The unlocking process allows the second element in the water heater to operate as needed.