Good news for a lucky handful of homeowners in the western U.S: GE may soon supply you with a free package of home energy solutions, including rooftop solar panels, smart appliances, and GE's Nucleus Home Energy Manager system (a small device that stores energy data and provides a web dashboard with energy use information). The $5 million program, part of a partnership with the Department of Energy and a number of utilities, aims to find out whether these products can increase home energy efficiency by 70%, or approximately $850 per year.
No word on how many homes will be outfitted with GE's suite of products, but residents of Phoenix, Arizona; Sacramento, California, and San Diego, California will be in the pool of potential participants. Both newly constructed and existing homes will be eligible.
Of course, GE's experiment forgets to take into account one thing: the human element. It's possible that homeowners will pay more attention to their Nucleus devices simply because they know it's part of an experiment--or because the suite of energy efficient products are free. Will people be similarly responsive if they have to pay for a package of GE energy solutions? That's hard to say--and impossible to find out until GE releases the Nucleus commercially next year.