Smart grid device update

Lynne Kiesling

Here’s a roundup of some developments in smart grid end user devices (in other words, I had a bunch of cool articles open about nifty innovations, so let’s round ‘em up so I can clear tabs in my browser!) that I hope you will find as interesting as I do:

  • From the NYT Gadgetwise blog, how to keep a green home, remotely. This post focuses on Tendril’s TREE service and the ability of homeowners (not the utility, homeowners) to alter the settings on their devices remotely. Think about how you can log in and set your DVR to record something that you forgot, or how Slingbox allows you to watch your DVR from a remote location. Same concept. Love it. For more on Tendril, here’s a really good CNet interview with Adrian Tuck, Tendril’s CEO; this interview indicates that Adrian, and Tendril, are thinking about the potential value of transactive capabilities in appliances and energy management systems. Another energy monitoring device profiled in this article is TED, The Energy Detective — simpler, and not as obviously extensible as Tendril’s devices to transactive capabilities like programming your appliances to be price responsive.
  • A neat little article from ecohome about home energy management, the value of real-time feedback, and some of the technologies that can make it happen. Again, focused only on the behavioral changes from making the information feedback more timely and more transparent; nothing specific about transactive capabilities or price-responsive devices. Still, a decent summary.
  • Geared mostly to commercial-sized electricity consumers, Cisco’s EnergyWise is a developing product and service category for Cisco. They have been getting quite a bit of attention over the past few months for their increasing interest in the smart grid and intelligent end-use device area. See also this GreenMonk post on Cisco. Energy information products and services targeted at commercial and office customers can give good bang-for-the-buck in terms of increased energy efficiency, reduced costs, and reduced emissions, because buildings consume almost 50% of the electricity consumed in the US, and there’s quite a bit of low hanging fruit. If the energy information feedback system identifies those low hanging fruit, it pays for itself quickly, to the benefit of everyone.
  • Also from GreenMonk, Tom Raftery talks to Jonathan Gay of Greenbox about their home energy management product and, happily, dynamic pricing! However, the rollout they are doing in Oklahoma uses only time-of-use pricing and is therefore not truly dynamic in the sense of being able to change as market and system conditions change. This is why I only gave Greenbox a D+ on my transactive test last September, which I should revisit soon …
  • GE is testing, and will start selling, intelligent appliances including heat pumps, water heaters, washers, dryers, and dishwashers, from earth2tech’s Katie Fehrenbacher. [A slight aside here: Katie Fehrenbacher is my favorite green tech writer right now, by far. She totally rules. As far as I'm concerned, she hits all of the important angles of the technologies and policies she covers.]
  • Finally, inhabitat reports on a neat device from the Greener Gadgets Competition — Tweet-a-Watt! Take an off-the-shelf Kill-a-Watt, hack it with some wireless technology and a receiver for it on your computer, and voila! The device to which you’ve connected the Tweet-a-Watt can report its daily electricity consumption to its Twitter account.

The more we can remove barriers to all of this kind of creativity, the better!