"it illegal to “unlock” a grid-enabled water heater"
Oh my... Can we make any more laws/regulations?
The Energy Improvement Act of 2015, which went into effect last month, brought a change that might seem incongruous with the name of the legislation. You see, it loosened the U.S. Department of Energy’s newest energy-efficiency standards for electric waters heaters, which came into force just this past April.
The DOE standards had called for large electric waters heaters—ones with a capacity in excess of 210 liters—to meet very stringent efficiency ratings, ones that would in practice require them to use heat pumps rather than simple electrical-resistance heating elements. The new law relaxes that requirement and allows some very large (in excess of 285 L) water heaters to be sold even though they warm water the old-fashioned way, with simple resistance heating elements.
A water heater is a perfect load to use in this way, because it can store energy in the form of hot water for long periods. It’s sort of like having a big wet battery connected to the electric grid.
This might seem a simple correction for regulators to make, but the effort was stalled by legal requirements put in place to prevent environmental rules from backsliding, explains Upadhye. Those interested in this method of demand management were thus forced to pursue a new law, the one that went into effect last month.
That legislation now allows large-capacity electric water heaters to be sold, despite their inefficiency compared to the heat-pump type. But there are provisions to ensure that most, if not all, of those water heaters are used in laudable ways.
For example, it makes it illegal to “unlock” a grid-enabled water heater so that it can be used without being part of a demand-management or thermal-energy storage program. And the government can still bar the sale of such water heaters if it determines that the number of them being sold is 15 or more percent greater than the number of them involved in the kinds of programs they were designed for.
Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
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