LOUISVILLE, KY -- GE Appliances & Lighting plans to be the first major appliance company to provide a whole-home solution for energy management by going beyond the kitchen to provide insight into energy usage in the family room, the basement, the home office, and all other rooms of the house. From the GeoSpring™ hybrid hot water heater, Nucleus™energy manager and programmable thermostats, to GE Profile™ Appliances enabled with Brillion™ technology and GE smart meters, GE is developing solutions to help consumers better manage and control their energy use and costs.
Dave McCalpin was recently appointed General Manager of GE's Home Energy Management (HEM) business. The new business will develop and commercialize GE's full line of energy-management solutions that empower consumers to make smarter, more informed energy choices. As utilities roll out smart grid technologies in response to the critical energy challenges we face as a nation, there's never been a better time for GE to launch this business.
GE Energy products, like solar PV, advanced energy storage, thin-film solar, small wind, and residential electric car charging stations, in addition to next-generation products being developed at GE's Global Research Center, will also play an integral part in helping both consumers and utilities realize the true benefits of the smart grid.
Increasing energy demand: Global energy consumption is predicted to triple by 2050, and the numbers prove just how important home energy management will be in curtailing sky-rocketing demand:
•Residential housing consumes 37 percent of the electricity produced in the U.S.
•Appliances, lighting and HVAC represent 82 percent of household energy consumption.
"It makes economic and environmental sense for the world to better utilize the power we already generate rather than create more capacity to meet our escalating peak-power needs," said McCalpin. "If we can better manage when and how we use power, we can control the demand without compromising people's lifestyles. This is where global smart grid initiatives and GE's new Home Energy Management products come into play."
Where smart grid meets the home: To help manage the growing demand, and improve the performance of the nation's electrical grid, utilities across the U.S. and the world are implementing smart grid technologies - including smart meters on homes. These new technologies can help improve grid efficiency and reduce electrical demand, particularly during "peak" periods (typically 2-7 p.m.). Reducing this peak demand will help limit the number of new power plants needed.
It's estimated that 40 million smart meters, which allow two-way communication between the utility and the home, will be installed on U.S. homes between now and 2012.2 Among other benefits, these smart meters will enable "time-of-use" pricing programs that incent consumers to lower their consumption during "peak-demand" periods.
This consumer-driven demand response reduction could provide the largest reduction in U.S. peak demand, helping avoid consumption equivalent to the generation of 108 coal plants over 10 years.3 Playing a critical role in demand response, HEM devices could actually communicate with smart meters to automatically reduce power consumption of certain devices when the cost and demand for power is highest, helping consumers save without sacrifice.
A year-long study by the U.S. Department of Energy showed that providing real-time pricing information to consumers via the smart meter helped reduce electricity costs 10 percent on average and 15 percent during peak periods.4 "Knowing what is consuming electricity, and how much electricity that appliances are consuming, can be very empowering," states McCalpin. "People will be able to make smarter choices if they have information. The once-a-month electrical bill provides no insight into your usage habits. We intend to change that."
GE bridges the utility-consumer gap: Consumers today have little more than a monthly utility bill to understand how much power they're using and how much they're spending. Compare this to your credit card statements, which you can check almost hourly online. New utility pricing plans, along with inevitable increases in electricity costs, beg for solutions to provide consumers with the information necessary to better manage energy.
GE's Nucleus energy manager with Brillion technology was developed to provide near real-time information for more control over household energy costs and consumption. Along with monitoring consumers' whole-home energy usage, Nucleus will give people the ability to remotely adjust smart thermostats and alter the consumption of GE Profile Appliances enabled with Brillion(TM) technology in response to utility price signals.
GE's Brillion Suite of Home Energy Solutions, being developed by GE's HEM business, will include the Nucleus, a programmable thermostat, an energy display, smart phone applications, and GE Profile Appliances. Future hardware and software upgrades will further enable Nucleus to monitor water, natural gas, and renewable energy sources, as well as plug-in electric vehicle charging. For more information about GE's Nucleus, click here.
"Smart energy management products will offer consumers more convenience, choice and control than ever thought possible," McCalpin said.
Smart appliances at work: Components of GE's Brillion Suite of Home Energy Solutions are already being tested by five utilities in the U.S. Working in conjunction with the utility's smart meters, GE's Brillion-enabled appliances receive signals from the smart meter and are programmed to avoid energy usage during high-cost periods or to operate on a lower wattage setting. The Nucleus also receives the smart meter data and displays current and historical home energy consumption, giving consumers the insights they need to make better energy choices. Smart appliances have the potential to help lower consumers' energy bills, while giving them the control they desire - even the capability to override these settings.
GE's suite of smart appliances includes ENERGY STAR®-qualified refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, and the new GeoSpring hybrid water heater, as well as ranges and microwaves. www.GEBrillion.com