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Smart Appliances for Smart Meters

We all are aware of the strain on resouces our energy usage in the United States creates: on our environment and our pocketbooks - in 2008 it was stated that energy prices would increase 50% over the next 7 years! So, what's being done about it? In order to accomodate our "spikes" in energy usage at peak times of the day, power generation has to be increased which, in turn, increases our costs. Therefore, the US Department of Energy is focused on demand response: "decreasing demand instead of increasing supply in response to peak loads," among other initiatives defined in the Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007. That's where the Smart Grid comes into play. Smart meters have already been installed and are being tested in various markets in the United States. By 2010, US utilities are expected to install more than 40 million smart meters.* Here in Colorado, Ft. Collins Utilities has been chosen among 14 other utilites across the nation to receive a federal grant, the ARRA Award, to install smart meters that utilize the smart grid. XCEL Energy also announced plans in 2008 to install smart meters in Boulder.

The benefits of the Smart Grid for all of us:

Improved Reliability

Affordability

Increased Efficiency

Reduced Environmental Impact

Ability to Add Renewable Power Sources to the Grid

Enable Customer Participation

Customer participation? Have you ever gotten a utility bill and thought "why is this so high?" and "what (if anything) can I do to lower it?" When you get a Smart Meter installed on your home, you will be able to modify power use to adapt to power generation in real time so you will have more control over your energy and water use and your bill. The incentive for using less energy during peak usage times: the cost. On average, energy will cost the most between 11 am and 5 pm and the least between 10 pm and 7 am. You will be able to monitor your usage hour by hour, minute by minute via the internet. If you embrace this control, you can also buy a whole home monitor and appliances that communicate their energy usage so ultimately your refrigerator will run it's defrost cycles in the middle of the night, costing you less money. There won't be any more surprising utility bills and you can see the differences your actions make on saving enery and water.

Since 29% of an average household's energy usage comes from the water heater, refrigerator and other appliances, this new Smart Grid is important to us at Mountain High Appliance. According to the US Department of Energy, "Smart appliances costing $600 million can provide as much reserve capacity to the grid as power plants worth $6 billion." We want to be able to communicate the latest developments to our consumers so they can make educated buying decisions. Many of the brands we carry are testing smart appliances as we speak and are due to make these available to us and our consumers as early as next year. GE has engineered the Nucleus energy manager that communicates with your smart meter and smart appliances (they have a line of GE Profile smart appliances due out later this year). Have you ever left home and forgotten to turn your heat or air conditioner down? You'll be able to access your thermostat control through the internet and turn the heat down! PikeResearch forcasts that 118 million smart appliances will be sold worldwide by 2019. Bob Gohn, senior analyst, adds, "smart appliances will only represent 2% of global household appliance sales by 2015, but by the end of the decade they will increase to 8% of the appliance market . . . smart appliances will have an increasing influence on the market, as well as holding the potential to have a meaningful impact on residential energy consumption."

After expressing to consumers the importance of buying EnergyStar-rated appliances for the last decade, Mountain High Appliance continues to focus on the importance of saving energy and water by educating ourselves and consumers on the Smart Grid system and it's components. Smart appliances concentrate upon the importance of conserving energy and water by putting control into the hands of consumers.

* Parks Associates Study referenced on SmartGridNews.com. "Bringing the Smart Grid to the Smart Home: It's not all about the Meter." January 2010.