Smart Water Heater Project


Participates will receive $125 to $350 depending on configuration.

Residential smart water heater owners in the Southeastern U.S. are needed to participate in a research study conducted by the University of Central Florida’s FSEC Energy Research Center.

What is this study about?

UCF’s FSEC is conducting a study—funded by the U.S. Department of Energy—to learn how smart water heaters may help to create a more flexible and efficient electrical grid. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is the partner in this study.

AO Smith smart water heater

Does my water heater qualify for the study?

Since 2016, most manufacturers sell some water heaters with advanced controls and communications capabilities. You qualify for the study if:

  • You live in the Orlando, FL area, and
  • You have a standard electric resistance tank or heat pump water heater (sometimes called hybrid water heater) manufactured 2016 or later, and
  • Your water heater has “smarts” or advanced controls and communications capabilities.

What does participation involve?

Social Distance-Friendly Research

There is no need for you to open your home to researchers. The research is all being conducted remotely.


Participants will need to install a communications adapter and module, and then connect the smart water heater to their WiFi. The study supplies all required materials (except the water heater). Here is an example installation: Installation requires flipping your water heating breaker on and off and may take 10 minutes.

communication module used in smart water heater research study
Communication module


port adapter used in smart water heater research
Port adapter

During this two-year project, participants will allow PNNL researchers to slightly scale back water heating during peak times, or increase it to absorb available renewal energy, but will always maintain the ability to override this control.

Once set up, the study will require little to no attention from participants.


There will be three short surveys to complete: one at the beginning, one mid-project, and finally, one at the end.

A few willing participants will be selected for water heating energy use sub-monitoring, and provided extra money for their continued participation.

Why should I sign up for the study?

You will be helping to create a sustainable future with almost no effort and very little impact on your lifestyle.

  • Participates will receive $125 to $350 depending on configuration.
  • Participation is limited to 100 participants.

If you’d like to find out if your existing water heater (or intended replacement) qualifies, please reach out to Karen Fenaughty at or 321-426-0417.

How do I sign up?

Contact Karen Fenaughty at or 321-426-0417 to sign up for the study.

Research Team

Portrait of Karen Fenaughty
Karen Fenaughty
Field Team Member
Carlos Colon
Field Team Member
Anjhelica Sanchez
Field Team Member