Smart meters are great for keeping track of energy use, sure, but smart appliances and tools are also necessary for homes to truly become energy-efficient. GE wants to be the conduit that allows homes of the future to produce "net zero" energy by providing energy-efficient appliances, energy storage systems, solar and wind power generation systems, and smart home networks. In other words, GE plans to become the first company to offer a full suite of demand-response appliances that are compatible with the smart grid.
GE has already begun testing a number of its Smart Appliances, including microwaves, oven ranges, hot water heaters, and dryers decked out with smart grid communication technology. Now the company says it will introduce a smart thermostat and a home energy manager to help consumers effectively manage their range of appliances. According to GE, the combination of its appliances and other energy-saving devices should be enough to allow a house to produce more energy than it consumes.
Even though they come equipped with demand-response technology, GE claims that its appliances will only cost $10 more on average than traditional appliances when they are released later this year. The home energy manager, on the other hand, will retail for $250 upon its release in 2010—not cheap, but not out of the question for most homeowners, especially when energy savings are taken into account.
GE may have the smart appliance field dominated, but it isn't the only company working on a home energy manager. Greenbox Technologies, Google, Microsoft, and Energate are just some of the startups and major players with designs on the home energy management industry.