GE Ships US's First Smart Appliance, But Is It Pointless?
Image via GE
GE is shipping the first smart appliance to hit the US market. It's a water heater that can reduce energy consumption up to 62%, providing a savings of about 3,025 kWh per year. And the "smart" part comes with the fact that it can hook up to smart meters and a smart grid. But here's the downer - what meters, and what grid? As Green Inc points out, it's a chicken and egg scenario. GE and other companies like Whirlpool are rolling out smart appliances, but there's no infrastructure to make their "intelligence" relevant.
While smart meters are being installed by the millions, and smart grid pilot programs are underway on small scales across the country, we still really don't have anything for the appliances to link up with. So people purchasing appliances now will have to wait years before the "smart" factor can be utilized...possibly even enough years that they'll buy a new appliance to replace this one.
Still, Kevin Nolan, a vice president for technology at G.E.'s consumer and industrial division, points out that these appliances will be in demand in the future, so might as well start now. "Things are going to move very, very quickly," he said.
Whirlpool plans to make 1 million smart dryers by 2011, and more companies will roll out more smart appliances to hook up with a smart grid that will eventually, eventually arrive in order to make their interactive features have a point.
More on GE's Smart Appliances
GE Launching Smart Appliance Pilot Program
These Smart Clothes Dryers Could Reduce Electricity Demand by the Equivalent of 6 Coal Power Plants
GE Demonstrated Smart Appliances (Video)