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CEIC-04-02

"Consumer Strategies for Controlling Electric Water Heaters under Dynamic Pricing"

Chong Hock K. Goh and Jay Apt

Abstract:
Electricity used to heat water represents 9% of residential demand in the USA and can be 40% in other countries. Hourly residential use of hot water is often anti-coincident with the peak generation of electricity, presenting an opportunity for reducing consumer costs under dynamic pricing during the afternoon generation peak. We have examined the effects of three strategies on customer costs under dynamic pricing: timed power interruption (long used by certain utilities), a price-sensitive thermostat, and a double period setback timer. Systems which lower the water temperature set points are as economical as power interruption systems, and result in higher minimum water temperature. Our model predicts that a setback thermostat will keep the tank water warmer than a load interruption timer with very similar electricity use. The setback thermostat and the more complex price-sensitive thermostat achieve similar water temperatures and consumer savings.

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