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Smart but not quite fulfilled
This month, the first American 'smart appliance', the GE Hybrid Water Heater, becomes available. Great, but one not-so-little thing is still missing...
Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 11:07 PM
Sometimes green technology progresses in a slightly wonky fashion. Case in point: the development of “smart” meters and appliances.
This month, GE began distribution of the Hybrid Water Heater
, believed to be America’s first commercially available “smart” appliance. This EnergyStar-certified water heater can reduce energy consumption by 62 percent and is equipped with an Ethernet-like port that enables homeowners to digitally tap into their local power grid via a “smart" meter. With the utility company and the appliance “connected,” homeowners can more accurately monitor and conserve household energy use. For example, during times of high-power usage,
a smart appliance connected to a smart meter will go into energy-saving mode. All sounds good but there’s one thing missing: smart meters.
Although smart meters are rapidly in development and present in some homes, smart appliances like GE’s Hybrid Water Heater, well, aren’t so smart without them. Not to say smart appliances are completely useless but they need something to connect to
. It's like an analog TV without a digital converter box. That said, a smart meter must communicate with a smart grid
, a concept that also needs to be further developed
nationwide. Essentially, bits and pieces of “smart” power are coming together but just a bit out of sync.
No one, however, can accuse GE of lacking foresight. After reading a recent New York Times Green Inc. blog post
on the topic, it seems that the “smart” energy revolution will hit fast and furiously over the next couple of years so it’s good to know that GE has a head start.
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