GE Appliances & Lighting created the Home Energy Management (HEM) business, intending to be the first major appliance company to provide a whole-home solution for energy management. Dave McCalpin was named general manager of the new HEM business.
GE's HEM intends to help consumers better manage and control their energy use and costs throughout the home. GE already offers a number of devices that address such needs, including the GeoSpring Hybrid Hot Water Heater, the Nucleus energy manager, programmable thermostats, and smart meters.
GE also offers many of its Profile appliances with Brillion, its trademarked technology that enables cooperative communication between networked devices and the smart grid.
HEM will develop and commercialize GE's energy-management solutions for consumers.
GE notes that energy demand is increasing, with global energy consumption predicted (by a 2005 U.S. Army Corp of Engineers report) to triple by 2050. GE said residential housing consumes 37% of the electricity produced in the U.S., and appliances, lighting, and HVAC represent 82% of household energy consumption.
One of the primary goals of U.S. smart grid initiatives is to better use the energy production capacity the country already has. Home energy consumption efficiency can increase significantly when homeowners the option to participate in time-of-use pricing programs, which reward homeowners for lowering their consumption during periods of peak energy demand (usually 2-7 PM).
Simply providing consumers with energy consumption information motivates energy savings. A U.S. Department of Energy study showed that providing real-time pricing information to consumers via a smart meter helped reduce electricity costs 10% on average and 15% during peak periods.
"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 referenced a 2010 Parks Associates Study that estimated 40 million smart meters, allowing two-way communication between the utility and the home, will be installed on U.S. homes by 2012.
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