GE expands smart home automation technology
Changing your habits could put money in your pocket. By monitoring electric usage in real time, homeowners can manage their energy consumption and save on utility costs. By the time the monthly bill comes, it’s too late to do anything about it.
If you could see how much it costs to leave a light on, or turn up the thermostat two degrees, would it make a difference?
Homeowners can now answer that question. GE announced this week its Brillion suite of home energy solutions offer an intuitive home energy display that provides a continuous audit of household energy consumption in kilowatt-hours and in estimated dollars spent — something everyone in the family can understand.
GE's energy display with Brillion technology communicates with the utility smart meter on the house to provide consumers with near real-time energy data to help them make smarter energy choices. Despite spending an average of $1,400 per household per year on energy, most consumers today are completely in the dark when it comes to their electricity use and the cost of performing their necessary household chores — until receiving their monthly bill.
"This would be analogous to adding food to your grocery cart without having any idea about the cost of each individual item," said Dave McCalpin, general manager, Home Energy Management, GE Appliances and Lighting. "Does washing a load of clothes equal the cost of a pound of steak or a can of beans? Today, consumers just don't know. This display functions like an energy price tag for everything in your home, providing continuous energy usage and estimated cost data to consumers, so they can make smarter choices throughout the day and throughout the month."
The anticipated deployment of approximately 40 million smart meters in the U.S. between now and 2012 makes it possible for consumers to get access to more near real-time energy data. Smart meters will also enable utilities to put time-based, or time-of-use, pricing programs in place — with different prices for electricity at different times of day. Fluctuating rates will make it increasingly imperative for consumers to have a clear picture of their consumption and pricing information in real time.
GE's new Brillion-enabled energy display will receive signals from smart meters and provide continuous energy information in an attractive and intuitive format, including:
- Near real-time energy use and cost information: The near real-time readout will show consumers how much electricity they're consuming at that moment, along with the estimated cost of that electricity.
- Time-based pricing: In areas with time-based pricing, consumers will automatically know what price period they're in based on the display — and will find it easier to remember when it's most important to conserve.
- Historical energy usage: With access to consumption data for the month, day and hour, consumers get a clear picture of their consumption patterns and can make more proactive choices to help them conserve and save.
- Energy analysis: Ever wonder how much electricity you use during the big game, with the flat screen running for nearly half the night, the oven roasting to provide game-time treats, and the outdoor lights on to usher in guests? Analysis tools on GE's energy display with Brillion technology will enable consumers to look at their energy data for a defined period of time — whether it's a few hours or a few days.
- Messages: The communications capabilities of the display will also enable utilities to send messages and reminders to homeowners to inform them of utility maintenance, pricing changes or critical conservation periods.
It’s clear that information is power. A year-long study by the U.S. Department of Energy showed that real-time pricing information provided via a smart meter helped reduce electricity costs 10 percent on average and 15 percent during peak periods.
GE's energy display is part of GE's Brillion suite of home energy solutions that will include a programmable thermostat, Nucleus energy manager and Energy Star-qualified refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers and the new GeoSpring hybrid water heater, as well as ranges, microwaves and clothes dryers.
GE's Nucleus and Brillion-enabled appliances are already being deployed in utility pilot programs.
GE’s Nucleus energy manager is a data-storage device that provides consumers with secure information about their total household electricity use and estimated costs so they can make more informed choices about how and when to use power.
As utilities deploy smart meters, Nucleus — which is about the size of an average phone charger — will collect and store a consumer's total household electricity use and estimated cost data for up to three years, and present it to consumers in near real-time on consumers' existing personal computers or on a smart phone. Nucleus is expected to be available for consumer purchase as early as the second half of 2011 at an estimated retail price of $149-$199.
GE's energy display with Brillion technology will retail for approximately $150 and will be available starting in the second quarter of 2011. It can be installed as a stand-alone device or communicate with Nucleus for even greater system capabilities.
Companies: GE Appliances