I'd like to comment on the very interesting and insightful article "GE Gets Smart With Enegry Managing Appliances" written by Katie Fehrenbacher. There are a lot of good ideas here. One I really like is talking to the concept of "it's not just how much energy you use, but when you use it" to the level of energy consumers use at home. No question that late afternoons, especially in summertime, is when the family comes home, the air conditioner switches on, TVs and PCs come to life, and power use rockets up. So as Ms. Fehrenbacher astutely points out, why choose that time to defrost the refrigerator? And we all know the answer...clearly we don't even know when our refrigerator's defrost cycle kicks in...much less how we might control it.Quite a lot can be done in this space. Truly intelligent appliances that can be controlled over the internet are surely one option. With the cost of wireless LAN and other connectivity options coming down, we can surely imagine how to achieve such devices. And, of course, such products can also be truly intelligent so that when the dishwasher is loaded up at 6 p.m. it knows that it should wait and start the cycle at 1 a.m. when energy and water are in lower demand and possibly cheaper. And if you are having a party and need the dishes now, it should be a simple matter to direct your dishwasher that tonight will be an exception.Eliminating "ghost" power - that power we consume without really knowing it, is another worthy cause. All the unused power adapters and home electronics in standby mode and the like really do add up.But when we do need power, using it at the right time is a great idea. We all know that the washing machine and dryer warm up the house, so why run them during the heat of the day? And if the home furnace knows that you won't be home until 6 p.m. and that it should start heating up the house at 5:30, why not have it pass this knowledge on to the water heater? With electronics technology, we can easily control things to run when it's most advantageous or when costs or demand are lowest. And we can run them more efficiently when they do run.At the end of the day, I think we all want to do our part to help our planet, but I also think we don't want to suffer much in the process. We don't want to be inconvenienced and we really don't want to have to run after all of our appliances and consumer electronics to keep them in check. After all, most of us don't even want to set the VCR clock. So we are all going to love where the next generation of electronics will take us. Appliances, consumer electronics, and other systems with well designed and easy to use power saving features are coming soon. These systems will make it easy to conserve - so we can feel good about using them and know that we are helping the green movement in the process.- Bill
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