GE is introducing an in-home, multi-function energy information panel that will give consumers insight and control to help them manage energy usage and understand costs. The sleek, touch-screen panel will wirelessly connect to a household’s smart meter, appliances and thermostats, via ZigBee® or Wi-Fi®, to gather information, manage usage and deliver the real-time knowledge that empowers smarter energy choices.
The panels are the result of a development effort between GE and OpenPeak, Inc., a leading communications technology developer. The device looks like a tabletop picture frame and can be placed virtually anywhere within a home. The panels are available to consumers through their utilities today. Functionality is dependent on the utility’s selection of applications.
With information from GE smart meters combined with dynamic pricing programs from utilities , the panel will tell consumers the best times to perform high-energy-consumption tasks, such as drying clothes, running pool pumps and washing dishes. The panels even will be able to be programmed to control smart appliances, thermostats and heating and cooling devices – reacting to pricing and demand changes instantly. Over time, the device will act as an energy consultant, trending data and making recommendations to better manage energy use.
"Information is power. Give consumers more information about their energy usage and they’ll find ways to make better decisions," said Bob Gilligan, Vice President – Transmission and Distribution for GE Energy. "As part of our smart grid suite of offerings, the panels will empower consumers to better manage their energy usage based on real-time information. The panels will connect consumers with the knowledge they need to be better energy stewards and take charge of their energy use and carbon footprint."
In addition to energy management, GE’s smart panels also will connect with Internet news, sports, music, weather services, social networks like facebook® and instant messaging. This multi-functionality helps make the panels a focal point for household information.
"Combining other useful information and entertainment applications with energy management information increases the frequency of consumer interactions with the device," said Dan Gittleman, CEO of OpenPeak. "And frequent consumer engagement means a greater number of opportunities to communicate important energy consumption and conservation information."
Consumers who opt in to the social networking aspect of the panel will be able to compare their consumption to neighborhood and city averages, seeing how they stack up against like households. Those comparisons may inspire increased conservation and modified behavior for some homes.