Smart Appliances Crucial for Smoothing  the Energy Demand Curve

Smart home appliances built to communicate directly with the Smart Grid would reduce peak electrical demand and the need for utilities to generate power known as “spinning reserves,” writes Erb Executive-in-Residence Thomas Catania. Utilities use spinning reserves to restore power quickly when the grid runs short. Catania’s article appeared in the ASHRAE Journal, published by the America Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

The time of day an appliance uses energy is as important for national energy policy as its Energy Star rating, Catania says.

In 2006, Whirlpool Corporation and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory showed that a smart dryer could detect, without human intervention, conditions on a utility grid that would presage a power outage and interrupt the 6,500 W dryer heating elements for up to 10 minutes. The clothes would continue to tumble to prevent wrinkles. The short time the heating element was off would have little effect on the consumer but would reduce the need for expensive spinning reserves. Peak use periods that lead to power outages typically are short, Catania says.

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