Innovation That Matters

The HotBot system uses AI to make electric water heaters more efficient | Photo source Plentify

A smart energy startup reduces the impact of electric hot water systems

Agriculture & Energy

An AI smart energy device tailors heating to user habits – improving efficiency and saving energy

Spotted: In South Africa, there are an estimated 5.4 million electric water heaters—known as ‘geysers’—in homes and public buildings. These geysers can drain up to 12 per cent of the operational capacity of the electricity grid at peak times. The South African grid is both strained, and heavily dependent on environmentally damaging coal burning. This level of energy consumption is therefore problematic and unsustainable.

Startup Plentify is using smart technology to make electric water heaters more efficient, saving customers money, and relieving some of the burden on the electricity grid. The company has developed a device called the HotBot, which can be plugged into a standard water heater. The HotBot uses AI to learn a user’s water usage habits. The system then ensures that hot water is available when it is most needed, while minimising energy consumption when it is not. The HotBot is connected to an app where users can provide further information about their timetable and adjust or override the system as needed. The app also lets users see information about their energy use.

In addition to private individuals, Plentify highlights the benefits of the HotBot for businesses and landlords, explaining that it can reduce bulk electricity costs, and lower the cost of insurance.

Plentify’s founders were inspired to start the company by their experiences growing up in South Africa. In 2007 the country began experiencing rolling blackouts, and the energy system continues to face affordability and reliability challenges to this day.

Other recent innovations that use smart technology to reduce energy consumption in the home include a smart ventilation system, and a portable generator powered by renewables.

Written By: Matthew Hempstead



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