Several months ago, GE started a trial installing smart appliances — dishwashers, microwaves and other devices embedded with communications technology — in 15 homes in Louisville, Ky. The data has now started rolling in, GE’s Charlie Smith said during a presentation for the California Energy Commission on Thursday, and GE is learning things like consumers don’t want the microwave task light turned off (ever), but will generally delay running their dishwasher during peak times when reminded. It’s all part of the information that GE is gathering for the launch of a smart product line later this year that will include household appliances like the ones in the Louisville trial, then be expanded in subsequent months to include other new devices.
GE’s Smith says that this summer it will start selling a smart heat pump and water heater that can reduce energy consumption by half compared to a traditional heat pump and save consumers $250 per year on their energy bill. Smith said the heat pump has three settings (levels 1 to 3) at which the heat pump will change the temperature or power down during peak load times. The heat pump, as well as the other smart appliances, are designed for use alongside variable pricing, in which energy prices go up when there’s more demand on the grid.
Smith said that GE will start selling the first of its smart appliance line in June or July of this year (Smith showed off pictures of washer and dryers and dishwashers but didn’t name specifics of what would come first). GE had previously said that it would “introduce” these products in the first quarter of 2009 and named smart refrigerators, ranges, washer and dryers, dishwashers and microwave ovens. These products are the ones that GE used in its pilot program with the Louisville Gas and Electric Co. GE also previously told us that it plans to provide 50 smart appliances for its smart grid project with Florida utility FPL.
Smith also said that GE will start selling a smart energy dashboard in late 2009 or early 2010. The pictures GE showed off of the dashboard suggest it would look similar to the dashboards that other companies are offering (10 Monitoring Tools Bringing Smart Energy Home). GE previously told us they plan to test out 500 smart dashboards for its FPL project.