INĀ² Spotlight: Using Water Heaters to Shift the Energy Load

May 23, 2023

The way Co-Founder and CEO of Shifted Energy Forest Frizzell explains it, the family Shifted Energy helped thought something was wrong. Shifted Energy installed a new grid connected heat pump water heater system in the home. When the family got the energy bill, they called Hawaiian Electric because the price changed in one month from $910 to $130.

“They contacted Hawaiian Electric to say: you didn’t read our meter correctly,” Frizzell said. “Hawaiian Electric assured them the bill was correct and the family was very emotional when they called us.”

The family lived in the community of Waimanalo on Oahu in Hawaii, which is part of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, similar to a Native American reservation in the continental U.S. The area is designed for native Hawaiians, but residents cannot take advantage of typical home ownership. They own the structure of the home, but the land is leased making it difficult to attain lines of credit for upgrades like rooftop solar. The homes are often multi-generation and can have seven to 12 people living under one roof.

“They knew their solar water heater wasn’t working properly,” Frizzell said. “They didn’t have the $500 to pay a technician to figure out what the problem was. When we installed a direct load control switch and used our software to determine a baseline, we discovered leaking pipes and faulty solar panels were causing the water heater to try and heat itself from the grid for 17 hours a day.”

A small box is mounted on a wall with cords running in and out.
The Shifted Energy direct load control switch can be installed in 10 minutes. Photo courtesy of Shifted Energy

That completely changed with Shifted Energy’s system in place. Shifted Energy, which joined the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2) program in 2019, is a platform that aggregates grid edge energy assets with a residential focus. The company uses machine learning to understand how different families use an energy asset in an effort to maximize load shaping and minimize perceived discomfort.

To read the rest of the article, please visit the NREL Website.

Show All News