Smart hot water heaters make better use of wind power
A project which aims to use wind energy more effectively here in Atlantic Canada is showing success only five months in, according to the project manager.
Across the region 1,250 electricity customers are taking part in PowerShift Atlantic. They are mostly homeowners, but 120 businesses have also signed on.
The customers have a device attached to an appliance, usually an electric water heater, which allows the utility to turn it off and on remotely. Project manager Michel Losier, who works at NB Power, says that allows utilities to turn off these appliances when energy use is high and the wind isn't blowing, or turn them on when demand is low and wind energy is cheaper.
"An electric hot water heater, it heats five hours a day. So what is the best five hours to heat that hot water?" Losier explains.
"We've created an energy management system that literally can link when the wind is blowing to when to charge that load more effectively — to reduce costs, to burn less fossil fuel and offset the need to build future power plants."
Losier said other than a few initial glitches customers haven't noticed the utility controlling their hot water heaters. PowerShift Atlantic wraps up in September, and will issue a report likely by early 2015.
CBC News asked for comments on the project from P.E.I.'s main utility, Maritime Electric, which has 137 customers involved, but it declined to give opinions until the report is out and it's known whether the costs of running the program outweigh the benefits.