Many critics of smart grid-related ideas for saving energy object that consumers won’t want to sit around watching energy prices, flipping light switches and delaying the dishwasher when prices spike now and again to save a few bucks. Of course the critics are right on this point. The best smart grid energy saving ideas are mostly in the realm of “fix it and forget it” devices. You set the dial and let the device do the work.
Perhaps the ultimate “fix it and forget it” device for home energy saving is a passive house – a house that is designed and built to require minimal amounts of energy. This isn’t a smart grid kind of thing – these designs are so smart that they can be dumb; they don’t need to know the price of electricity.
Or rather, because a passive home design requires additional upfront effort and expense, the smarts need to be exercised mightily up front. As discussed in an article in the New York Times describing a passive house being built in suburban Boston central Vermont (edited, see comments), such homes are more expensive to design and build. After that, it is mostly “fix it and forget it.”