Photos via Jaymi Heimbuch
General Electric has been working on smart appliances for years now, and more importantly, it has been pouring resources into getting those appliances connected within a smart home and the smart grid. The company showed plans for a connected home back in 2009, and it has been investing in smart grid technology consistently, including awarding financial prizes for good ideas. GE is inching closer to its goal of seeing a home fully equipped with smart technology, and unveiled just such a connected home at CES 2011. This is what they hope houses of the future (the very near future) are like.
Shown above is Nucleus, an energy manager developed with Brillion technology. This is the hub of the smart house -- it stores all the data about energy consumption over a three year period, which can be used to monitor and manage energy use as effectively as possible. The management is done through a dashboard with widgets for different functions, like managing the appliances, the heating and air conditioning, and even electric vehicle charging. Future upgrades to the Nucleus will include water and natural gas monitoring as well.
Managing a home's energy specifically around electric vehicle charging is a huge issue. For the homeowner, it revolves around charging when prices for electricity are at their lowest, and for utilities it revolves around how to handle the load required by more people plugging in their car. To a utility, plugging in an EV is like plugging an entire new home to the grid, so managing electricity supplies as more people purchase EVs is a big challenge yet to be figured out.
Fortunately, GE is testing out their connected home technology in a Martha's Vineyard Pilot Program. It's a 2-year project including 35 households. The company is starting to see first hand how people use the information from their Nucleus device, and what difference can be made in home energy consumption. Here's a video about the project:
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