What's your typical routine when you get home? Start cooking dinner, run the dishwasher, and do some laundry all while watching a little TV and cooling off in the A/C? Well, that's the typical American's household routine, and it causes a huge strain on the electrical grid. Electric companies have been attempting to alleviate this strain with Smart Meters, but now appliance companies like GE are also stepping up by manufacturing smart appliances that will talk to the grid and to each other…
Electric companies and appliance manufacturers, such as GE, are hoping to avoid building new power plants or firing up dirty coal plants during peak demand by providing Smart Meters to talk to the electric grid and adjust the rate depending on the time of day.
In the same sense, appliances will tap into that system and adjust how they work by connecting with programs, like energy management software Tendril. So your clothes dryer may run at a cooler temperature but for longer, your dishwasher may delay its cycle until the evening, and your freezer may temporarily turn off its ice maker. You could also make your own rules for your machines, such as setting up a monthly electricity budget. All of these actions can be overridden, but you'll pay for it in electricity rates and an enlarged carbon footprint.
Tenril is also offering an interim solution, "smart plugs," which would go between a "non-smart" appliance plug and the outlet, and can monitor and remotely turn appliances off and on.
GE's pilot projects are expected to start as soon as the end of this summer. For more info watch GE's video explanation.
(Image from Green Tour: Matthew and Emma's Eco Environment )