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GE's Energy-Efficient Appliances Just Got Smarter - What a Brillion Idea
January, 2011 — Imagine appliances that know how to stretch a buck — washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators and water heaters that can automatically adjust their consumption in response to price signals from your electric utility to help manage your household energy use. GE Profile™ appliances enabled with Brillion™ technology can do just that.
As more utilities install smart meters and adopt time-of-use (TOU) pricing structures — with lower prices during periods of lower electricity demand and higher prices during periods of peak demand — consumers will rely on smart grid technologies to help them manage their electricity use and costs. It's estimated that 40 million smart meters, which enable TOU pricing, will be installed on U.S. homes between now and 2012.1
GE Profile™ appliances enabled with Brillion™ technology can automatically react to utility price signals from the smart meter and delay or reduce the wattage consumed by the appliance until lower-cost, off-peak periods. Home appliances — including heating and cooling — account for approximately 75 percent of total energy consumption in the home, making appliances an attractive target for improved energy management.2
GE's Brillion™-enabled appliances include ENERGY STAR®-qualified refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers, and the new GeoSpring™ hybrid water heater, as well as ranges, microwaves and clothes dryers.
How smart appliances work: The utility can communicate price signals to smart appliances via the home's smart meter. The appliances will automatically avoid or reduce energy use during high-cost and peak periods (typically 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.). But GE has left the final control in the consumer's hands, allowing them to override the smart appliance functionality if they need to.
"GE Profile™ appliances enabled with Brillion™ technology provide consumers with additional choice and control in how they manage their energy usage* without compromising their lifestyles," said Dave McCalpin, general manager, Home Energy Management, GE Appliances & Lighting. "With smart appliances, consumers let the technology work for them, helping them keep their energy costs in check. This consumer-friendly functionality is good for both the utility and the customer. We believe that consumers will be more inclined to participate in alternative pricing programs if they feel they are in control, and greater participation will play a significant role in long-term smart grid success."
Here are examples of how GE Brillion™-enabled appliances work:
- The refrigerator delays the defrost cycle from occurring during peak hours.
- The dishwasher can automatically delay starting the cycle until off-peak times.
- GE's GeoSpring™ hybrid electric water heater operates only in heat-pump mode during periods of peak costs, reducing wattage by over 80 percent compared to a standard electric-tank water heater.
- See more examples here.
Several utilities are currently working with GE on residential smart appliance pilots to test energy savings potential, and even more utilities are testing them in their labs. Among the pilot programs underway are:
- Reliant Energy — Reliant Energy in Texas is testing GE Profile™ appliances enabled with Brillion™ technology as part of a home-based smart energy program.
- The Vineyard Energy Project (VEP) — GE's Brillion™-enabled appliances and Nucleus™ energy manager with Brillion™ technology are being piloted on the island of Martha's Vineyard to test the smart grid's role in helping the island achieve greater energy independence.
- Louisville Gas & Electric (LG&E) — GE has had a smart appliance pilot program in place with LG&E for more than a year. Program participants, also GE employees, have reported that, by slightly modifying their behavior and using smart appliance features, they've saved on their utility bills during peak pricing periods, including a report of as much as a 20 percent savings.
Key to a smarter grid: Smart appliances are key to the success of a smarter grid, which will help utilities deliver electricity to consumers more efficiently and reliably. This will be increasingly important as the nation faces significant challenges: reliability challenges facing the nation's current electric grid cost U.S. business more than $150 billion per year.3 Compounding these problems, global energy consumption is expected to triple by 2050.4 Fortunately, consumer-driven demand reduction — made possible by smart home technologies — could provide the largest reduction in U.S. peak demand, helping avoid consumption equivalent to the generation of 108 coal plants over 10 years.5
In addition to smart appliances, the GE Brillion™ suite of home energy solutions will include Nucleus™ energy manager, a programmable thermostat, and an energy display.* In areas where dynamic pricing rates apply. Dynamic pricing and time of use (TOU) programs provide for variable pricing of energy based on the time of day. Dynamic pricing and TOU programs are provided by the utility and may or may not be available in your area. Availability of dynamic pricing programs in a particular market is dependent upon the utility serving that market.
1. Parks Associates Study referenced on SmartGridNews.com. "Bringing the Smart Grid to the Smart Home: It's not all about the Meter." January 2010.
2. ENERGY STAR®. "Save Energy at Home." www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_save_energy_at_home
3. www.energy.gov/news2009/8216.htm (01/06/2010)
4. U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, 2005 (www.itsyoursmartgrid.com)
5. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: The potential of residential demand reduction programs represents approximately a 7 percent reduction in total U.S. peak demand, or 65 GW over the period 2009 -2019. This avoided demand is equivalent to the generation capacity of 108 coal plants over a ten-year period, (600 MW typical coal plant).
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