Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - SCU Access Only


Santa Clara: Santa Clara University, 2014.


Mechanical Engineering


The rising cost of fuel and electricity has created strain on economic resources, and increasing the energy efficiency of home systems is necessary to help alleviate the rising cost of energy. Water heaters account for the second largest consumption of home energy costs. Their inefficiencies can be linked to maintaining water at a constant high temperature. In this paper, a control system, which gathers users' hot water usage patterns using wireless sensors powered by thermoelectric modules, is described to control the heating cycle of a household water heater. The system cuts energy inefficiencies in water heaters by almost eliminating standby losses and through active temperature control. Our experiments show that a smart water heater controller implemented onto a tanked electric water heater can save the homeowner 89 kilowatt hours of energy per month. This is a 43% total energy reduction; 21% reduction from the elimination of standby losses and 22% from active temperature control. In addition, it was demonstrated that thermoelectric modules produce enough power from waste heat on copper piping to run wireless temperature sensors and communication devices.