More than fifty years after the electrical industry launched the “Medallion Homes” campaign to push U.S. homeowners into an all-electric future, General Electric is taking it to the next level. The appliance giant has announced that by 2015 it will have developed a complete all-electric net zero home appliance management system that includes enough solar and and wind capacity to take a home off the grid, and even generate enough power to sell back to the local utility.
GE and Net Zero: The Pieces Fall Into Place
The foundation of GE’s net zero system was laid years ago, when the company began to focus on energy efficient appliances qualifying for federal Energy Star designation. In 2005, GE announced its “ecomagination” campaign to promote investment in sustainable alternative energy and high-efficiency products. Last year it officially dropped any further development of old school incandescent light bulbs, to focus its funding on the new technology of high efficiency LED lighting. And just this year, the company affirmed its commitment to working with high tech start-ups and push new alternative energy products into the market, including a big project with Southwest Windpower.
The Net Zero, Off Grid Home
With GE’s portfolio of high efficiency appliances already in place, the next piece of the puzzle is a system that enables homeowners to micromanage their appliances’ energy use. In 2010 the company plans to introduce the “Home Energy Manager” and a line of smart thermostats that can take full advantage of off-peak hours, stored energy, and any on-site energy generated by the home’s photovoltaic and/or wind installations, which are under development at GE’s Global Research Center.
Pricing the All-Electric, Off-Grid Home
The added cost for appliances compatible with the Home Energy Manager is negligible. The real bite, of course, is the estimated $30,000 tag for residential photovoltaic and wind generating systems, along with energy storage capacity and other new technologies. A pick-up in the economy by 2015 would brighten the prospects for individual homeowners to buy into the technology, but even without that the outlook is good, especially for solar power. Alternative energy rebates can help boost the pace of private solar investments, subsidized housing is another big solar market, and the U.S. government is installing solar by the batchload. By pulling the energy generating element together with complete individual control of energy at the switchpoint, the promise of an all electric house is one step closer to reality.
h/t: ars technica.
Image: mrbill on flickr.com.
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