In the first Quarter of 2009, GE will introduce a suite of ”smart” appliances. Energy Manage-ment Enabled Appliances. These GE appliances will be enabled to receive a signal from their local utility. The appliances will receive the control message and react based on the appliance internal programming. It requires no consumer interaction.
”Now that ENERGY STAR® appliances are recognized by 75% of American consumers, the next step is to reshape when energy is being used,” said Kevin Nolan, Vice President Technology for GE Consumer & Industrial. ”Peak hour energy demand is growing faster than total energy demand. It is imperative that we begin to shift some of the energy load from peak hours to other parts of the day – – helping to avoid the need to build new power plants to meet the demand,” he explained.
For example, the automatic defrost feature on GE refrigerators is initiated by the internal electronics based on the number of refrigerator door openings and other input signals. If the refrigerator can delay the defrost cycle from occurring during peak energy usage hours, consumers will save money by paying for the same amount of energy later in the day when the rates are lower.
In addition to ”smart” refrigerators, GE will enable ranges, laundry pairs, dishwashers and microwave ovens to receive and respond to communications from the utility company. Consumers will be notified of a rate change or of critical peak pricing by the display on their appliances letting them know when higher rates are in effect. Appliances will be programmed to avoid energy usage during that time but consumers may choose to override the program – giving them ultimate control.