Energy Products

Other smart tech to maximize efficiency in house, reduce kWh demand

In addition to installing the solar panels (16.4 kW) and two Powerwall2 units, that is just the beginning of the project. It is not just about producing electricity, it is also about minimizing kWh used so that more kWh are available for the car.

So far I have installed:

Two Ecobee3 smart thermostat units, one downstairs, one upstairs. Our house is 3,400 sq ft, two levels, in Florida with two AC units to control. This was a big savings right away. Just programming the upstairs AC to turn off while the kids are at school is reducing demand by 10+ kWh per day Monday thru Friday. I programmed it to turn off the AC at 6 am, the teenagers leave for school at 7 am. Then it is set to cool down the upstairs at 2:30 pm right before they get home.

Aquanta smart wifi control for the electric water heater.
So after much research, smart tech is much less common for water heaters. Aquanta seems to be the best one I could find. It hooks up to almost any type of water heater, then with Wifi and temp sensors, it takes over management of the water heater. You can then use the app on your phone to control the schedule, or let it manage everything. Stop heating water at night or during the day. Just heat it up when you are likely to take a shower or whatever. I just got this installed today, so I am not sure how much it will save. But it is obvious my electric hot water heater is a big consumer of electricity in the house. I am expecting over 5 kWh per day savings from this item.

I am trying to avoid Alexa and Google technology. Just trying to buy smart items that work with Apple Homekit or Samsung SmartThings apps. So far it is all working well together.

I am looking for more smart tech to add. But from everything I have read, the air conditioning and the water heater are the two major items for efficiency gains.


  • Two other major power-sinks are aquariums and waterbed heaters, but they are relatively rare.

    Thermostatically-controlled gable exhaust vent fans for attic spaces are a help, especially with the reduced sun-load on a PV panel covered roof. Utility depends on existing attic insulation (which should be R-30 at a minimum). I added a SmartThing module to it for more control.

    We've got wall insulation, too. I added it during a strip-to-the-studs remodel.

    Ceiling fans can reduce AC requirements, especially when coupled with whole-house fans. I'm in coastal So. CA, without AC. We've got two whole-house fans, and I designed thermostat-controlled relay switches that fool Nest thermostats into thinking they're AC units. They come on at night and pull air through secure windows into the house and cool it down nicely. We then close up the windows in the morning on the few (but more frequent, now) hot days, and use the ceiling fans for comforting air flow. It got to over 100F here Summer of '19. Never broke 80F in the interior those few days.

    Replaced all appliances with super-efficient ones. Added Insteon controls all over the house, with a couple SmartThings, more recently. If I did it all over again, I'd do all SmartThings. Slightly cheaper, and more compatible with other devices.

    Of EVs. We have been, since 1997.
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