This news item is a little old, but I thought I'd post it anyway as its interesting to see GE promoting the idea of energy neutral buildings (though their vision is a long way from that of the Passivhaus folks, heavy on technology on low on insulation and design) - GE: Smart grid yields net-zero energy home.
General Electric unveiled a project at its research labs that will let homeowners cut annual energy consumption to zero by 2015.
These "net-zero energy homes" will combine on-site power generation through solar panels or wind turbines with energy-efficient appliances and on-site storage. Consumers will get detailed energy data and potentially control appliances with Home Energy Manager, a device that is expected to cost between $200 and $250, according to GE executives at a smart grid media day.
GE is piloting the in-home products this year and expects to have the appliances and energy display available next year. The premium for the more efficient, networked appliances will be about $10 more, GE executives said. A net-zero energy home would cost about 10 percent more by 2015, executives said.
Studies show that when consumers have more detailed information on their energy use, they can find ways to reduce consumption by 5 to 10 percent. When utilities have variable, or time-of-use, pricing, consumers could cut electricity use by 15 percent at on-peak times, typically in the morning and early evening.
GE appliances have been converted to have electronic controls and will have a small module in the back that will allow it to communicate with a home's smart meter. With that communication link in place, consumers can find out how much electricity individual appliances use and program them to take advantage of off-peak rates.
The idea behind the smart grid, which encompasses a range of technologies, is to make the electricity grid more efficient and reliable by applying information technologies and controls to the existing grid.
In addition to networked appliances, GE's Net Zero Home Project calls for on-site power generation through solar panels or wind turbines. GE produces solar panels and has invested in residential wind turbine maker Southwest Windpower. A 3,000-watt solar panel array, which costs roughly $30,000 to install, would be enough to supply all of a home's consumption, according to GE executives.
Plug-in electric vehicles and home batteries could be used to store electricity for peak-time power or back-up. Plug-in vehicles could also be charged during the middle of the night to take advantage of off-peak rates.
GE's Home Energy Manager control unit, which consumers access through a dedicated display, provides information to consumers but also is designed to optimize one-site energy generation and consumption.
For example, the control unit could evaluate electricity rates and see that running a dishwasher when the solar panels are producing is cheaper than running the load at off-peak times, explained Beyerle. Or a clothes drier can go into "conservation" mode during peak times where it will operate at a lower temperature and take longer to run.
Greentech Media has more - GE Unveils Net Zero Energy Home Strategy.
General Electric wants to combine its energy efficient appliances, solar and wind power generation systems, energy storage systems and "smart home" networks to offer homebuilders a complete package to achieve the holy grail of energy efficiency – the "net zero energy home."
But that goal – a home that, over the course of a year, generates more energy than it uses – is "only possible with the full deployment of the smart grid," Steve Fludder, vice president of GE's Ecomagination division, said Tuesday at GE's Niskayuna, N.Y. research center.
That's the idea behind GE's new push into homes, the "end-points" of the electricity grid that GE is already briskly engaged in making smarter through technologies meant to provide digital data and two-way communications between utilities and their customers.
Adding to its line of devices like smart meters, grid sensors, wind power systems and energy storage systems, GE said Tuesday that it will release its own "home energy manager" early next year – a device to link appliances including a "smart" thermostat that it is developing.
"That will be the cybernetic brain that will interface between the grid and all these devices in the home," Fludder said. Combining the device with appliances, air conditioners and other devices that can adjust power use to save energy, and adding a 3-kilowatt solar panel array on the roof, should allow a typical home to make more energy than it uses over the course of a year according to GE's calculations, he said.
The home energy manager will likely cost $200 to $250 and is now being tested in pilot projects, said Kevin Nolan, vice president of technology for GE’s consumer and industrial division. As for new “smart” appliances, they’re also being tested in pilot projects and are expected to be about $10 more than traditional appliances, but rollout will depend on how quickly utilities can support them with time-of-use pricing schemes that can be digitally communicated to homeowners, he said.
Tuesday's news puts GE firmly in the smart home field, a space occupied not only by startups such as Tendril Networks, Energate, Control4, Greenbox Technology and Onzo but also by IT giants including Google, Microsoft and Cisco.